Archive for March, 2011

Ultrasound for Kids

Posted in Goats with tags , , , , , on March 21, 2011 by PickMeYard

We have a Nigerian dwarf goat (named Honey) that a friend loaned us to use as a family milker.  Her milk is so rich and creamy that we find ourselves hiding it from each other in our fridge.  It’s 6% butterfat.  It has no goaty flavor and no smell… just delicious!  Grayson does all the milking himself, two times a day.  He’s learning some serious skillz.  Honey loves all the special attention and treats she gets from being milked.  Whenever she sees Grayson she jumps up on her milk stand and waits for him.

We were told there was a chance that Honey could be pregnant.  We decided to take her down to the Verandah Pet Hospital to find out with an ultrasound.  Dr. Piper is a small animal vet and doesn’t treat goats (ruminants).  He made an exception for us… for the kids.  Goats are considered livestock and treated by large animal veterinarians.  Dr. Piper can’t deny that it turned out to be a fun experience though.  The children loved it! 

Grayson walking Honey outside Verandah Pet Hospital.

Waiting for their ultrasound.

Loring and Dr. Piper discussing where the baby goats come from.

The ultrasound didn’t find any baby goats.  That’s the ultrasound machine in the background in the above photo.  If she were pregnant, the ultrasound  would find the babies on her left side under the rumen.  Oh well, maybe next time.  Now we can milk her longer. 

Here’s a link to a YouTube of an ultrasound being done on a goat.  It can be difficult to tell if a goat is pregnant.  This is a link from Fiasco Farms (my absolute favorite online site for goat information) for more information about goat pregnancy.

Dr. Smith works at Verandah Pet Hospital part time. Isn't she beautiful?

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Catching a Swarm of Bees

Posted in Bees & Hummingbirds with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2011 by PickMeYard

I caught a swarm of bees a few days ago.  It’s strange, but I think the bees called me over to them somehow.  They beckoned me with their minds.  I was unloading my truck and decided to stop what I was doing to go look at our macadamia nut tree.  I walked around it and smelled the wonderful blooms on it.  Then I noticed something dark up in the tree… a cluster of honeybees.

Blooms on our macadamia nut tree.

A swarm of bees in our tree. They’re surrounding their queen.

I believe the swarm is from one of my other hives, but I’m not sure.  They probably outgrew their box and made themselves a new queen since their boxes are healthy and full of brood and honey.  They could have gathered a group together with a new queen and took off to find a new home.  I should have split the hive myself to prevent them from doing this because they were crowded, but I didn’t.  This beekeeping practice is called a split.  Honeybees will make pointy honeycomb on the bottom of the foundation in their boxes when they’ve made up their minds to leave.  These are called swarm cells.  A beekeeper can pull them off to deter the bees from leaving, but it doesn’t always work.  There are several methods of swarm prevention.

I didn’t have a box big enough to put the swarm in so I called a fellow beekeeper.  She gave me an empty bee box to put them in.  (Thanks, Penelope!) I threw on my beekeeping jacket with a veil and lit a smoker.  I held the box up with one hand under the swarm and cut the branch off with big garden sheers with the other hand.  This was tricky, but where there’s a will, there is a way.  The idea is to get the queen into the box so the bees will stay.  If the queen flies off, her swarm will go with her.  I was lucky that the swarm was on a low branch.

Penelope gave me a queen cage to put the queen in if I could catch her.  It would be set into the box between the foundation.  The toothpicks would help the cage stay between the foundation. There’s a little bit of marshmallow stuffed into the end.  The honeybees would eat through the marshmallow over a couple of days to let their queen out.  This process would up the odds that the honeybees would stay in their new box. 

A queen cage.

I couldn’t catch the queen.  I couldn’t even find her.  The bees started getting frustrated with me since I was taking so long so I just gently put the top on their box and walked away.  Within a few minutes, every single bee had made its way into the box.

Every one of these bees went into the box because their queen was in there.

It’s been a few days now and the honey bees are still in their box.  I opened them up and they’re making beautiful white comb.  My instincts tell me they’re not going anywhere and have found their new home. 

New home for honeybee swarm.

Soon I will re-queen them to keep them gentle.  This is an important step for beekeeping in Southwest Florida.  The practice of capturing a swarm of honeybees is not supported in Southwest Florida because we’re in Africanized honey bee territory.  I felt very comfortable catching my swarm though and I didn’t have a nervous bone in my body.  I really wanted that swarm.  Beekeepers develop emotional attachments to their honeybees.

The Beekeepers Association of Southwest Florida is holding another class for beginning beekeeping on June 17, 2011.  Click here for more information about them.  Click here for their blog.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 17, 2011 by PickMeYard

I love St. Patrick’s Day because I don’t feel pressured to buy anybody anything.  We can just enjoy the holiday and wear something green.  Is it a holiday for the Irish only?  Does it matter?  Click here for a history reminder of St. Patrick’s Day.  It was my favorite holiday when I was a kid because we went to school ready to pinch people who forgot to wear green.  I don’t think that’s tolerated in schools these days.  It’s reserved for family members now.

A bunch of clovers. She picked them for our table centerpiece.

A clover leaf. We heart St. Patrick's Day.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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2011 Polo Season

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2011 by PickMeYard

I realize that polo is not a popular sport for most… but it could be.

Polo is a super exciting game to watch.  It’s played at an all-out full speed and the players get hurt constantly.   Polo players are a hard-core breed of people who usually live and breathe their sport.  They tend to be obsessed with it and think of little else.  I can see why.  The spirit, the vibe and the energy of polo is very infectious.  

Full speed ahead!

If you ever have an afternoon that you’re looking for something new and different to do outside, check out a polo match.  It’s more of an American sport than most people realize… and it does have a magical appeal.  The United States Polo Association has an excellent website to get more information about polo in the U.S.  They also have a full list of upcoming events.

Polo in action.

 

 

Polo player injury on the field.

The 2011 Polo season is in full swing at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach which is the home of the only high-goal season in the U.S. You don’t have to be a member of the club to go enjoy the game every Sunday at 3 p.m., but you do have to purchase tickets.  Reservations are highly recommended. The season ends April 17, 2011.  The game on Sunday, March 13th in Wellington will have a special appearance by Betsey Johnson.

Children playing by the polo field.

She's pretending she has a pony.

He's dreaming he has a pony.

... and she really has a pony. Check out the diaper helmet.

... he's practicing his polo skills, just in case.

This is the traditional ‘divet stomping’.

That’s a Jamaican polo player in the photo above.  She’s taken me to some riveting polo games in Jamaica.  It isn’t unheard of to hear “get up, Man! There’s nothing wrong with you!” coming from the audience after a player has fallen at a Jamaican polo match.   They’re very serious about their games.  Of course, all polo players are.  Here’s a list of the 2011 upcoming events for the Jamaica Polo Association,  just in case you want to try something off the beaten tourist path.  You could even grab a polo lesson from a world champion female polo player.  (Ask for Lesley Ann Masterton Fong-Yee).

 

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Chalkboard Art, Part 2

Posted in Inspiration with tags , on March 7, 2011 by PickMeYard

We converted our garage into a playroom several years ago and I decided to create an endless amount of things to keep the kids busy in there.  I painted an entire wall with a beige chalkboard paint.  Click on the link to see the chalkboard art in my kids bedroom.

Chalkboard art in the garage.

Before I painted the chalkboard paint on the wall, I painted it with a magnetized paint.  I was hoping the result would be a magnetized chalkboard.  Unfortunately, the magnetization is very weak.  Maybe the chalkboard paint over it was too much.  It’s no big deal though.  The kids spend hours drawing on the walls.

Priceless.

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Swamp Cabbage Festival 2011

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by PickMeYard

The Sable Palm is the Florida State tree … and we eat it.  Most people know it as  ‘hearts of palm’.  We call it ‘swamp cabbage’. 

Most Floridians refer to the tree as a cabbage palm.   The cabbage palm is native to Florida and survives almost anything mother nature serves its way.  even hurricanes.  If you live in Florida, you should check out Pamela Crawford’s book,  Stormscaping: Landscaping to Minimize Wind Damage in Florida.  She says the cabbage palm is one of the few trees with a well-deserved very high wind tolerance. 

The young palm tree is harvested and the bark is removed.  The center core and the base are the parts that are eaten.  They can be eaten raw or cooked.  It’s sweet, fibrous and tends to have a laxative effect.

A pile of swamp cabbage before it's center is cut out.

Hooray beer! Hooray swamp cabbage!

Swamp cabbage... hearts of palm. I guess it depends where you live.

The small town of LaBelle, Florida holds a  Swamp Cabbage Festival on the last weekend of February every year.  Click on Scrumpdillyicious to see some great photos and get more information.  It’s a big, weekend party for the town. 

A float in the 2011 Swamp Cabbage parade.

The Hillbilly Experience float in the 2011 Swamp Cabbage Parade.

... No, I'm pretty sure the other white meat is gator.

Joneses BBQ is the best ever.

... and Perkins has the best gator tail.

Pirate Pickles has delicious pickled swamp cabbage. He's holding the edible part of the cabbage palm.

That's a big pile of cut up cabbage palms under a cabbage palm frond.

They have some very exciting armadillo races. They really are fun and kids go bonkers over it.

Armadillos getting ready to race.

Ballet in the park.

The weekend holds constant entertainment, from ballet to bluegrass.  The Seminole indians have their booths with traditional fry bread, crafts and information.  There are endless vendors selling food.  It’s fun to try the different family recipes of swamp cabbage.  The town has held this festival for over forty years and attracts over 30,000 people a year from all over South Florida.

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