[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
We had an unexpected visitor last night.

Along about 4am the dogs started barking. Fortunately for the state of our home, Gryphynshadow doesn't sleep as deeply as I do. I remember vaguely hearing what may have been a bark. She actually got up to check.

Darting out the door upon her arrival was something big. It took her brain a minute.

"Hey! That was bigger than our biggest cat! What the h.....?"

She let the dogs out into the yard, and they proceeding to growl and bark and pee all around the patio and yard.

Seems this years crop of raccoons is ready to explore. This one came into the house for the dog food.

This would be the down side of having a cat door.

I was afraid for my chicks, but the 'coon seems to have passed them by. This is a relief...I've seen what is left of a chicken after a coon pulls it through the bars of a fence or cage, and I don't want to have to clean that up, thank you very much.

So it seems it is once more time to be VERY good about making sure we lock up all the food until this year's crop of raccoon youth figure out our house isn't worth it.

The dogs will be thrilled...since this means they get to stay out of their crate at night.

I'd rather clean up the results of dog mischief than the results of 'coon mischief.
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Let's see, I'll leave it up to[livejournal.com profile] gryphynshadow  to let you know what's going on in the plant department, if she hasn't already (that's a hint, lovely lady! :D).

I will say we ate our first tiny tomatoes yesterday...I can blog about that because my teeth were involved. nom nom nom

Progress continues on the chicken pen (weather and illness keep getting in the way). We got two rows of the roof for the main section done, and the posts and bottom row of poulrty netting put in place for the extension around the compost piles the last time we had decent weather and two healthy people. Pictures once we get my desktop back up and running (*hates virus and malware*).

Our chickens, still housed at the ever-patient [livejournal.com profile] laughingturtle 's house, are now making eggs. wee!!

AND an important discovery was made regarding fire ants. For those who do not know, fire ants have an overly-developed fondness for rosemary (for electricity as well, but that's another story). My heart-aunt had some fire ants climb the post of her covered porch, crawl along the joists, and rappel down the wires to reach her hanging pot of said plant, that's how obsessed they are. Several years ago, however, I discovered (while living in my first house) that planting oregano on either side of your rosemary plant will keep fire ants away. Despite the large rosemary bush planted in a raised brick garden bed against the house (note: do NOT put three sided garden beds against your house...very very very bad idea. If anyone doesn't know why, ask, I'll explain) I had no fire ants in the bed, apparently due to the oregano bushes on either side of it.

Now, we have a rosemary bush in one of the beds in the side yard. It is doing much better than last year, thanks to gryphynshadow's judicious use of compost and leaf litter mulch over the winter, and we only recently planted a small oregano plant in there, so that bed has fire ants at the moment. We had the posts for the chicken pen extension piled next to it. So it should not surprise anyone to hear that when I stood up one of said posts, ready to pound it in, I discovered that fire ants were crawling up and down it. Not knowing what else to do, I told GS to stand back, banged it once, hard, with the post driver, and leaped back. As a result, we had some very angry fire ants on the ground, but only one that landed on my leg long enough to bite. We walked away to give them time to disperse before finishing driving the post, and GS plucked a few oregano leaves that we could rub around our ankles to keep any strays from climbing our legs (unbenowst to me, it was too late for that, as I already had one in my sock, but never mind that part).  As an experiment, I crushed the leaf and rubbed the oil on the three fire ant bites on my leg. (yes, those without fire ants, one ant often equals multiple bites, only one of the reasons this particular pest sucks diseased hyena tit).

I am very allergic to fire ants, not as much as when I first moved to Texas, fortunately. Then, one bite on my toe could swell my foot for a week such that I could not wear shoes. Now, I get very red and irritated all around the site of the bite, and the bite itself spends the next days swelling up like a pimple and hurting the whole time.

So I was extremely pleased to discover that within 10 minutes of applying the oregano oil, the redness had disappeared, the pain was only an occasional stinging sensation, and the bites were less noticeable. Imagine my further pleasure when I realized the next day that, although the fire ant bite on my ankle was acting as they always do, the one on my leg was difficult to find, only a faint small bump.

From this we conclude that the reason fire ants do not like to dwell with oregano is that its oils may neutralize their poison. We will be planting more oregano around the rosemary, and oregano oil will be purchased for use in the meantime on any fire ant bites we, or the children, recieve.

Gryphynshadow, or course, also plans to spread dried molasses, to boost soil micro-organism activity (which fire ants also dislike), but it is still a neat trick to know. If any of you try it, let us know your results please, as I would be interested to hear whether it's just me or if that particular trick stands a good chance of helping others as well.

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Suburban Permaculture Project

May 2011

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