Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Do you Feed the Wildlife?

The other evening, my granddaughter and I were sitting on the park bench in the front yard minding our own business when a mother raccoon and her three kits crossed our drive way.  We tried to contain our excitement/fear.

My granddaughter kicked her scooter over to our neighbor and told her about the raccoons.  To our surprise we found out that she fed them!  She considered them God's creatures and needed to be taken care of and fed.  She already had four Muscovy ducks (from the official city park) and a couple of Mallard ducks that she fed.

I have met the Box turtle many times and almost stepped on her/him when stepping off the front porch.  The turtle didn't panic.  It had seen me before and I had seen maybe this one turtle or its relative eating tomatoes in my garden and enjoying it.
 This is an anoli, a common critter in north east Florida and certainly in my yard.  They are extraordinary great hunters for insects.  I have seen them take on moths that have been rather large.  The anoli tries to scare me by puffing up a pouch on its chest that turns red.  Now, you understand that we really don't need insecticides.

Oh, Lord!  This is not poisonous.  It had sought shelter in our big garden box by the pond.  It liked to curl up on the patterned underside of the lid.  It will hunt for rodents and the like and we have a sneaky suspicion that it has feasted on our goldfish.  Who else could get in there?

These ducks roost in our neighbor's yard.  If they want variety, they go and find shade in another yard.  They are rather mindful of cars but they have the right away.

This is my feral cat that we picked up at the same time we picked up our riding lawn mower.  The cat was supposedly mine and the tractor to be used by my husband.  This has changed dramatically in the last few years.

We talked to her veterinarian about being feral and he said that she will always have that feral streak in her.  She loves being with us and often inspects the pond and eats grass from the garden.  The cat does not eat human food and she drinks water (not milk).  She does not hunt birds.

I don't feed the wildlife because I don't want any of the animals and birds that visit the Back Forty to become dependent on me feeding them.  What when I leave town for an extended time?

In most cases, the breads and other human food might harm the wild animals and birds because our food is not nutritious enough.  The birds might develop "angel wings" that is a deformation of some of their feathers sticking out, hence the name.

By feeding the wildlife, they will lose their natural instinct to hunt and gather food for themselves and they will also lose their fear of people.

Feeding the critters may also create a food fight among the animals and the birds--survival of the fittest syndrome.

There is absolutely no reason for me to feed the birds and animals that come to my Back Forty because there are  plenty of berries and seeds along with bugs and insects.  I reluctantly share my tomatoes with a few box turtles and water is provided.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Marinated Tomatoes

When the summer is at its best and warmest for me, the tomatoes won't bloom and produce:  it's too hot; however, the cherry tomatoes keeps on going and so will my blog.

This is a rather simple recipe that will use up some of the tomatoes. It is also rather delightful to take along for a summer get together:  a change from all the sweet things.

Depending on how many people you have in your party:  I have only one other so I coarsely chop a few tomatoes along with a finely minced shallot or in my case a small white onion.

I don't have whole fresh garlic so I use a full teaspoon of store bought minced garlic that I mixed in with the tomatoes and the onion.

For the marinade, I whisk 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar with 3 tablespoons of canola oil (extra virgin oil, if you prefer).  In addition, I use 1 and 1/2  teaspoons Kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to taste.  More or less to suit your taste.

Set aside for at least 2 hours.

Before serving, I add 1 cup finely chopped fresh sweet basil and 1/4 fresh cup parsley.   Enjoy!

Thank you for visiting my blog.
Continue to have a great summer!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Oils and Soaps for Plants

There is no doubt that summer is here with hot and humid weather.  At the Back Forty, the garden is almost in a dormant stage: it is much too hot to plant new seedlings and plants but to harvest and enjoy what was planted earlier this spring.

We are keeping a watch out for insects, bugs, and mildew on the beans and tomatoes as well as peppers and eggplants.  Here are some homemade and safe solutions for landscape and houseplants:

Horticultural Oil is so labeled in garden centers and these products are used as sprays.  Mix two (2) tablespoons liquid dish soap and two (2) tablespoons vegetable oil in one (1) gallon (about 4 liters) of water.

Spray trunks thoroughly and spray leaves and cover the underside too.  It is important that the insects be contacted directly by the solution.

It is supposed to control mealybugs, scales, and spider mites; however, this may be repeated several times.

Insecticidal Soap:  Mix four (4) tablespoons of liquid dish detergent in one (1) gallon of water.  Spray liberally on affected plants.  It is supposed to control aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites.  It may be sprayed several times.

Coffee Grounds and Tea Bags:  I found this to be most interesting.  I save and use the coffee grounds and used tea bags in the compost pile.  The tannic acid prevents mosquito larvae from hatching.

This information was taken from a flier by University of Florida IFAS Extension.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Monday, June 13, 2016


We were having a leisurely breakfast with our granddaughter in Pensacola and we discussed a hero, Captain Jeff Kuss USMC, who lost his life by going down in his plane to avoid crashing into a residential neighborhood.

This morning the sky was clear blue. The sun was glittering over the waters and warming the sand on the beach.  It was the promise of a wonderful day in the making when we heard about the grim and senseless massacre in Orlando, another fun loving city in Florida shattered by gun fire.

We were devastated and chocked to hear the news.  

We are saddened for the families and friends and the community in Orlando.  

One more time, we have lowered our flag to half mast 
and we will hoist the flag again on Thursday at sunset.

Let us be kinder to each other and nurture each other and keep us out of harm's way

Friday, June 3, 2016


I try not to stray away from the Back Forty too often but sometimes there are events and happenings that have a great impact on me, e.g. # 6 and its Captain.

As you may have heard, a Blue Angel in the number 6 plane, crashed at a practice flight in Tennessee and Captain Jeff Kuss USMC perished in flames as he stayed with his plane to avoid crashing into residential areas.

Captain Kuss USMC was married and the father of two children.

Early last fall, the Blue Angels zoomed and looped and screeched  up and down a crowed Beach near Jacksonville, Florida.  They made some of their flights over the Back Forty.  We heard them and they were gone before we could spot them.  Apparently Captain Kuss USMC was the pilot on Number 6.

We are truly sorry for the loss of one of the finest.

The Blue Angels got their start at Craig's Field, a small airport in Jacksonville. They eventually moved to the Naval Air Station on the west side of Jacksonville.  They now make their home in Pensacola.

The first photo is borrowed. The Blue Angels in formation is my photo from the Naval Air Station a few years ago.

Rest in Peace 
Captain Kuss