Monday, November 29, 2010

I can't even get a snail drunk...

And another sad tale

You know the straw bales I told you about, a few posts back?
Well , they're doing great... and I'm really enjoying experimenting with them.
Unfortunately, the bales are doin' good... real good...but the plants themselves aren't.

Well some of them are, and I have to say that the tomatoes are simply flourishing and lovin' their new home, as are the peppers... but I can't say the same for the 14 zucchini plants I planted.

They were trying to flourish, and for the first day or so, it did my heart good to go out there and watch 'em puttin' on new baby leaves and shooting up.

But then disaster struck, and I'm now down to 3 pitiful little zucchini specimens.
And what was this disaster?

Slugs and snails!

Slimy, slippery, disgustingly voracious little bastards they are!

I went out one morning and had a look at the plants, and noticed that several seemed to be missing.
So I investigated further, and found slimy trails, and then a couple of little slugs happily munching their way through the stems of MY zucchini plants!
And they were lookin' at me... and even smiling at me, as they munched away at those tender juicy, potentially bountiful stems.

No worries, sez I.

I will simply put out some hollowed out orange skins on each bale, along with some coffee grounds scattered around the plants themselves.
Because I read in a book that that's a sure-fire way of getting rid of slugs and snails without resorting to snail bait.
Snail bait that's toxic to cats and birds and who knows what else.

And I have to say ... it worked.
The first night anyway.

See, what you have to do with the orange skins is simply place them out... and the slugs and snails will flock to them. And then you go out (several times) after dark, and dispose of the full-to-the-brim-with-slug-and-snails orange skins... into a bag with salt in it.

Which I did.
Several times the first night.
But only once the second night... because it started raining.

And risking pneumonia for the sake of zucchini plants that I might not live to eat the fruit of, seemed kind of silly to me.

And besides...the coffee grounds had sort of washed down into the bales, kind of defeating the whole purpose of irritating the damn slugs and snails tummy's' as they crawled across it, on their way to the all-you-can-eat buffet.

So... I decided that 8 zucchini plants were probably enough for any one person, because I simply couldn't drink enough coffee, or eat enough oranges and grapefruits to keep the vast hoards of gastropods under control.

And that's when I resorted to beer.

Okay, so I tried drinking it myself first... but then figured that me being half tipsy wasn't doing a bloody thing to protect my plants... so I started setting out tuna cans of beer for the snails.
I mean... Who wants to party alone, anyway, eh?

I set out 5 cans filled to the brim with beer, and happily went back inside.
And when I went out to check about an hour later, I saw vast herds of slugs and snails racing towards the beer... with sculling some primo ale with their mates, on their slimy little minds.
And I smiled to myself a little.... knowing that they were in for the surprise of their soon-to-be-annihilated little lives.

The next morning, I went out with visions of counting bodies in the hundreds...
But there wasn't one damn snail or slug in any of those cans.
Not a one!
Just my luck to be blessed with teetotal snails, eh?
They didn't even get high on the fumes, as far as I know!!
So I tried another brand of beer.
The Old Guys (expensive) favorite.
No luck there either.

I'm now down to 3 miserable little zucchini plants and one pitiful half eaten apple cucumber plant, as well as the healthy tomato and pepper plants... and today I'll be putting out 6 more peppers of various descriptions, and about 10 cilantro plants as well.

And I'm not ashamed to say...I'm resorting to snail bait.
Screw 'em.

Another sad tale...

We're now getting closer and closer to the date of the auction on my little dream house, (Dec 10) and I've been "praying without ceasing"... that the little beauty will be mine.
Now I don't often pray for myself, but I figured as long as I was praying for others, God wouldn't mind me asking for something for myself for a change.

I also asked him to give me a sign that this was meant to be...
Something that I would have no trouble recognizing, because to tell you the truth, sometimes I have to be hit over the head with stuff... you know?
So every now and again, I would smell a lovely fresh piney smell, sort of mixed with the smell of "mountain misery" - and it smelled just like home.
Sunlight on pine trees, dry, crushed pine needles.. and the heady fragrance a local plant...

Mountain Misery

And everytime that I smelled it, my heart would swell and tears would spring to my eyes... because God was giving me a sign - just like I asked - in answer to my prayers.

And then one day I noticed that the smell was particularly strong in the bathroom, and I figured that that was just because it's quieter and less hectic in there, with nothing else to draw my attention.

And my heart swelled and tears started rolling down my cheeks... because I knew in my heart that God was listening to me.

Until I flushed, that is.

And then I realized that it was only the toilet bowl gel.

And that God has a sense of humor...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holding my breath...

Good news!

Well sort of good news anyway. It's really too early to crow or dance at this point... but I just can't stop myself from being excited!
I couldn't sleep last night, and when I got up this morning, I was still so excited, that I just couldn't settle - or even concentrate on much.

Which was borne out when I poured myself a cup of coffee... and somehow forgot to have a cup waiting!
Hot coffee went everywhere (none on me, thank goodness) but even while I was cleaning the mess up, I was grinning like a possum!

See, the little house adjoining my sons place in Murphys, has finally been listed as "in default" and will go to auction on the 10th of December!
I want it so bad that I can taste it... and my son and I have been busy making plans, transferring funds, and getting all our little ducks in a row, in anticipation of bidding on the big day!

Now there are several things "wrong" with the place, that we're hoping and praying will work to our advantage...
For one thing, the septic is actually across the boundary line, and it sits on on my daughter-in-laws property.
Which is illegal.
So if anyone else buys the property, they're going to insist that the septic be immediately removed - and placed elsewhere.
Only there really is no "elsewhere" that doesn't involve pumping the septic uphill - which would be a very costly maneuver all the way around.
Which would also cancel out any thoughts of them *getting a bargain*.

It's also butted up right against the DIL's driveway on the left hand side, and although that means nothing to me and I can live with the family driving past, it will hopefully be a deterrent to anyone else hoping to bid.

The house isn't in real good repair but it is liveable... and with my handy-dandy son right next door, a lot of the repairs and renovations can actually be done before I even leave here.
And they can be done on the cheap, since he refuses to accept any "labor costs" from his mama.
Good boy that he is...
And... if we can get the place cheap enough, we can put more money - money that would have been spent on the purchase price- into renovations.
Which would make it a "win-win" situation.

Sadly, the woman who owned the place was/is a druggie, and supposedly there's a lot of damage to the kitchen countertops (burn marks) as well as damage to other areas from her cooking her drugs and her just not giving a damn about upkeep.

Now, if this were regular circumstances and this person had lost her house or her job due to the poor ecomomy in California right now, and she just couldn't keep up the payments... my heart would be seriously hurting at the thought of gaining because of someone elses misfortune.

But the facts are, she borrowed a huge amount of money from the bank, and then never got around to making her repayments, or paying the property taxes on the property.
It all went on drugs.
I do still feel sorry for her though...

There've been people looking at the property since it was listed, so the other day my son took his noisiest dirt bike to the bottom of the drive and proceeded to vroom and squeal all along the fenceline and driveway... throwing up dirt and rocks and having a good ol' time.
Which may not be exactly "nice".... but it is something that he and the grandsons do on a regular basis anyway.
It's something I can live with... but it's hopefully something other people would kind of object to.
Now all we need to do is get some nice smelly hogs right along the fenceline... and maybe some empty beer kegs and shot gun shells scattered around...

But... if you're the praying kind, could you please say some prayers for me?
Could you pray that everything pans out the way we hope it will and we get the property... so that I can get back home, where I belong?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You can lead a horse to water...

But you can't make him eat his dinner!

I don't know who let the Young Lad get away with eating only what he wants, but let me tell you... the kid is driving me bonkers when it comes to meal times!
He "only" likes certain foods, and no matter what I make or how I try and adapt it for him, he always says "I don't like this" and he pushes it away.

Fair enough... There are plenty of things I don't like either, but let me tell ya something, lad...
I am NOT running a restaurant here, and you either eat what I present to you, or you can go hungry.

Pure and simple.

I don't know what his past carers were like, but somewhere along the line, the lad has decided that he only likes spaghetti bolognase and garlic bread.
Or fast food.

I do know that when he goes to visit his mother on Tuesdays, he always comes home stuffed from eating fish and chips, and when I asked what's his favorite meal that mum makes is, he said "fish and chips from the takeaway"

He's slowly learning the rules of this household... but not fast enough to suit me!

He doesn't eat pork chops.
He only likes instant mashed potatoes.
Veggies make him feel sick.
He won't eat anything with butter in it or on it.
Milk is only for cows...
And salad is the worst thing ever invented.

He 'does' like my Sloppy Joes though, and will ask for seconds or thirds, but he refuses to eat the salad that's on his plate.
Oy Vey!!
Man can NOT live by Sloppy Joes alone, Lad!!
(But please don't tell him that I would like to give it a try, myself!! But the difference between us is, that I would more than happily eat the salad.)

All in all - eating habits notwithstanding - Lad has settled in extremely well... and it's working for both of us.

He's getting used to the rules and regulations, decent homecooked meals and a regular bedtime, as well as doing chores and using his manners at all times.

I'm getting used to loud music, a myriad of strange looking girls lurking around outside the house, and continual boy messes.

Oh... and scraping his plate into the garbage...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We Remember ...

There's nothing else that I can add... other than

God Bless Our Veterans!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Makin' hay while the sun shines...

Or maybe that should be "makin' straw bale gardens" while the sun shines.
Either way, this is what I've been up to lately.

I've been taking a bunch of straw bales, and turning into this: (potentially anyway...)

Or maybe even this:

At this point, I really dunno know what I'm doing, but I'm having fun doing it, anyway.

In a nutshell, what you do is take a straw bale (not a hay bale, but a straw bale), turn it on it's side, water it thoroughly for a couple of days or a week until the breaking down process starts, and then you simply plant your plants - veggie or flowers - directly into the bale.
Theoretically, it cuts down on weeds, watering and bugs... but time will tell, I guess.

Now when I ran across this idea, it sounded super easy and extremely cheap.
But I forgot for a moment that I'm livin' in Oz.
There's nothing cheap about buying a plain old straw bale here.
Everywhere I looked, I was looking at prices in the neighborhood of $11 and up (mostly up) - per bale that is - which is almost quadruple the cost that the US website recommended.

But ... I figure that once I get a seasons worth of growing out of it, it can then be used for mulching or whatever, so the idea of "dual purpose" made the exorbitant price seem a little more bearable.

I ended up starting out with 4 bales, and had them all nicely placed and the breaking down process started, but then we ended up with some hellacious rains and when it rains hard here, my patio ends up getting flooded.

So I moved the bales to the edge of the patio, to sort of keep the water from flowing in so badly.
And it worked.
The problem now is, is now that the bales are so heavy with water, I'll have to get someone to come help me shift them back to where they were in the first place.
IF they don't start breaking up on me, that is.
If they do, my "dual purpose" bales may end up being nothing more than bloody expensive mulch after all.
Or costly cat litter, once it's tossed on the garden.

I'll try and get some pictures of my own, once I get the bales back in place, okay?
But as helpful as the Old Guy is, that may well be the "twelfth of never"...
I know the Young Lad would be willing to try and help, but he's pretty small for his age and he even had trouble moving them when they were fairly dry.
Plus, all the grunting and groaning coming from them both, (while I moved 2 of them with sort-of ease) made my ears hurt.

And they call women the weaker sex?
Ha! yeah, right!!


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