Saturday, July 31, 2010

Garden Blogger's Death Day :: July 2010

Ding, Ding, Ding… bring out your dead!

Welcome back to Garden Blogger's Death Day! We're here to list our losses for July, 2010! This is the day for gardeners who overwater, underwater, maim, prune or otherwise neglect their plants to a state of dismal droopage or untimely death. This is the day for gardeners like me with black thumbs who kill more than they cultivate, for cadmium-green-thumbed gardeners who have a lapse in judgment and commit accidental planticide, and for any poor soul whose plants fall victim to that fickle mother who controls us all - Mother Nature.

I mentioned last month that I gave up the gardening goat for the summer. I had full intentions of planting sunflowers in July, but a certain white puppy found the package of sunflower seeds so that plan fell by the wayside too. Apparently they were tasty and so was the packaging. I have no pictures of the garden because you've already seen the trainwreck it has become and after being gone for our family vacation, it's only become more overgrown.

The good news is that the Fall planting season is coming up quickly for us Floridians, and as long as hurricane season treats us kindly, it's a much easier season to keep things alive than our insanely hot summers. Plus I have plans to put down some stepping stones around the raised beds to help with weeds. I have a bad situation where I need a fence around the garden to keep the puppy out, but it also keeps the weed wacker out. I'm hoping some of these stepping stones will at least help...a little.

So how about all of you? What fell victim to your gardening wrath this month? Feel free to leave a comment with a link to your blog showing what you killed or maimed this month. We're here for you. Let's not judge, but support each other like a good pair of pantyhose or a well-staked garden trellis.


Thanks to Annie's Granny for hunting me down and convincing me to get back on the computer. I'm soooo out of the groove this summer, but think life will return back to normal once school starts in a couple of weeks and Farmer B and the boys get back into their regular routine....which will leave me with more time on the computer and less time figuring out how to entertain the troops 13 hours a day 7 days a week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I'm back from vacation - and a chicken update

I'm baaaaack! My family and I spent the past week in North Carolina on our summer family vacation. It was a 9-hour drive each way and my boys did great in the car, which I was quite apprehensive about with a trip this far. We had a wonderful time enjoying the change of scenery and seeing the boys experience hills and mountains for the first time.

Here's a snapshot of the mile-high swinging bridge at Grandfather Mountain that we crossed to climb on the rocks on the other side. It was a new experience for my Florida-born boys to feel the winds on top of a mountain and to see clouds below them. My 6-year-old wondered where all the palm trees were and wondered why he could smell Christmas trees on our hike. I guess he never realized that they don't grow in parking lots under a tent.

We also took the boys panning for gold at the Reed Gold Mine - the first place gold was discovered in the United States. They say if you're lucky you'll come home with a gold flake in a little vile of water after panning through a large pile of rock and sand. And oddly enough, BOTH of my boys found a piece of gold, which was an awesome experience. They also got quite a kick out of an outhouse at the gold mine with some interesting toilet paper.


When we got home I ran straight out to the chicken coop to see how my recuperating girls were doing. Oddly enough, they seem to be handling this case of avian pox really well. All three chickens have some pox on them, but it's by no means severe. They seem better than when we left and it's definitely a very mild case. Thanks to everyone for the kind words of support and concern and all the emails asking for an update on my girls!!

I've got 9,000 loads of laundry to do and a ridiculous number of bags to unpack, but it's all worth it since our vacation was superb and we came home to healthy, happy pets!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Plants vs. Zombies - a zombie ate my brains!!!

To explain my absence I think it's best to tell you that a zombie ate my brains. Really.

A year or so ago I downloaded a trial version of Plants vs. Zombies for my computer. I'm not a big fan of computer games anymore, but this appealed to me. I played it until my trial version ran out and never purchased the actual game.

Fast forward to about a week ago. Farmer B surprised me by buying me the Plants vs. Zombies app for my iphone. And sadly I've been hooked ever since. When I sit down to write a blog entry I end up fighting a zombie battle on the phone and next thing I know it's bedtime. I'm not proud of this, but I thought I had better come out of the zombie closet.

I'm out and proud, baby!

The whole purpose of Plants vs. Zombies is to stop zombies from entering your house. If they do, they eat your brains and the game is over. Your job is to plant appropriate zombie-fighting plants from the list of plants you've earned (by completing levels) to defend your home. There are plants that shoot, freeze, eat, explode, burn and block off the zombies. There are different types of zombies with different skills who slowly shuffle toward your house.

Here is the description from the game manufacturer:

A mob of fun-loving zombies is about to invade your home, and your only defense is an arsenal of 49 zombie-zapping plants. Use peashooters, wall-nuts, cherry bombs and more to mulchify 26 types of zombies before they can reach your front door. Each zombie has its own special skills, so you’ll need to think fast and plant faster to combat them all. But be careful how you use your limited supply of greens and seeds… as you battle the fun-dead, obstacles like a setting sun, creeping fog and a swimming pool add to the challenge. And with five game modes to dig into, the fun never dies!

There is no learning curve with this game, which I love. My 6-year-old can play it with as much enjoyment as I can. That's my kind of game. I am amused by the bizarre zombies I encounter on each level - I've come across everything from zombies holding screen doors, to football players, to riding in a bobsled, to a complete zombie Michael Jackson Thriller dance video ensemble (which by the way is very hard to defeat since they all dance in unison toward your house).

The strategy is figuring out which of your plants to plant in order to destroy the zombies that are attacking your house on each level. Certain plants are only effective on certain zombies and you have a fixed number of plants you can chose from each time. And with each level you play the difficulty increases. So you start out with one strip of grass, but you can end up with a swimming pool, fog and darkness at night. It's ridiculously addictive.

Plus since my garden is having "issues" right now, I at least get the joy of planting different zombie-fighting plants in this game so I feel like I'm still honing my skills. When people ask me how my garden is going I now respond "It's fully prepared to ward off a zombie attack." It at least stops people in their tracks and I don't have to explain that my garden got overrun with weeds in this dreadful heat and I only have leeks growing right now.

So if you've got the iphone, download the app for $2.99 if you want some cheap entertainment. If you don't, you can still download it for the computer from
PopCap games for about $20 directly from their site. What other gardening-related game can prepare you for a zombie attack?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I think we have Avian Pox.

Ugh. I'm so stressed. I went out to let the girls into their run this morning and I noticed that Maggie's comb and wattles looked dirty. I picked her up and noticed that it wasn't mud - it was little black scabs. I immediately wondered if it was Avian Pox.

So far Clementine and Sookie aren't showing visible symptoms, but they may have the disease since it's very highly contagious. I am not sure if I should quarantine Maggie or just let the disease run its course. I read that it can take weeks to months to run its course and that seems like a long time to keep Maggie in solitary.

I'm new to Avian Pox, but learned a bit about them when Dani (from Gardening Under the Florida Sun) recently dealt with it with her backyard chickens.

I've since read up a bit more on it and have learned a few things about Avian Pox:

1) It's usually transmitted by wild bird or mosquitos. We're very buggy and swampy here so I'm voting for skeeters as the culprit.
2) It's a virus, so you can't do much about it. Antibiotics won't help unless the birds get secondary sores.
3) It's usually not fatal, but can be very uncomfortable for the birds.
4) There are 2 types of this pox. Wet pox and Dry pox. The dry pox is usually survivable for mature birds. The wet pox gets into the mouths and makes it hard for the birds to eat and drink, so you definitely don't want the wet pox. Both are often deadly for chicks.
5) Once the birds recover from Avian (or Fowl) Pox, they're immune.
6) Birds may still lay while sick, but many lay much less or stop completely until recovering.
7) You can put iodine on the scabs to make them dry up quicker.
8) Humans and other furry pets can't catch it.
9) There are some sort of vitamins you can add to their water to help them fight the pox, but I've yet to figure out the details of this one.
10) It just plain sucks.

So here I am converting my chicken coop into an Avian MASH unit and trying to learn what I can about this to try and get my girls through it. If any of you are Pox Pro's, please feel free to leave me any advice or tips in the comments section. Thanks!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

An Old Florida 4th of July parade and a kissable pig!

I'm fortunate enough to live in a pretty good spot in Florida. We live within 45 minutes from all the major attractions, beaches, space center, malls and theatres. But where we live is quiet and rural and is one of the few towns that hasn't fallen prey to the grip of big developers. Today was our annual 4th of July parade and I took the boys to experience it for their first time.

It was wonderful, nostaligic, quirky, entertaining and so old-Florida. People not from Florida think we're all about beaches, but the middle of the state is full of Florida crackers - countryfolk who ride horses, drive tractors and aren't afraid to fly a confederate flag. It's a whole 'nother world!

I thought you'd enjoy some photos from today's parade. It might be a little different from how things roll where you are.

My dad would have loved the low and loud flyovers by the Spruce Creek Gaggle flying club. It was really amazing to see and hear them flying over the parade route.

What's a parade without some kooky old ladies having fun? And then you've got your decorated ATVs and airboats and people riding fake gators. It's all very normal.

This guy was wearing a chicken hat that flapped and clucked. I must get one of these immediately. Then we had some square dancers and the best decorated horse contest.

Once the parade was over the 4th of July festival began. There were pony rides for the kids, Southern food, bluegrass music and plenty of kids games.

Of course my younger boy was a pro at tossing the fake cow pie into the toilet. Three for three!

And I saved the best for last. The "Kiss a Pig" booth. If you kissed the pig you got a prize. I stuck around long enough to see that the prize was a pair of wax lips to give the pig a second free smooch. It really was hilarious to see all these people lining up to kiss this poor little black pig. Sadly I couldn't convince my boys to do it.

Hope you all enjoyed a peek into our small town's Independence Day parade! We're shooting off some fireworks tomorrow night and having a little BBQ so it should be a fun day! However, being British I tell my boys that we celebrate July 3rd too - the day that we decided we'd had enough and decided to turn this country over to the yanks so we could vacation here after they built it up and got it all civilized and such.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Important egg safety lesson

I know some of you out there have chickens and some of you plan to get chickens one day, so I feel like it's up to me to bring you this important public service message about egg safety. I figure it's the least I can do to save you from going through what I went through tonight.

I always end my day by going out to the chicken coop and putting my girls to bed. I check that they have food and water and collect any eggs that were laid during the day. Then I lock the door to the coop to keep them safe from nocturnal evil-doers while they're sleeping.

Tonight I collected two perfect freshly-laid brown eggs and noticed their waterer was just about empty. The problem is I had my cell phone in one hand, the two eggs in the other hand, and I didn't have a free hand to carry the empty waterer. I decided to put the eggs in my pocket, which I often do, so that I could have a free hand.

I then bent down to unhook the waterer from the clip that suspends it in the middle of the chicken coop.



Important egg safety lesson: If you're going to put eggs in your pants pocket, don't bend over.

The best part was that I had a broken egg and an unbroken egg in my pocket.

Fishing out the slippery yolk-covered unbroken egg was loads of fun.

I ended up with egg on my shirt, all over my jeans and my right hand, and running down my leg and dripping on my shoe.

Like sharks in freshly-chummed waters, the dogs honed in on the scent immediately. They then proceeded to madly lick my gooey slimy pocket as the yolk dripped on their heads.

It really was a delightful way to end the evening.

I can't promise I'll never do that again.

Of course, I'm not proud to admit that.
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