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Archive for the ‘Pest Control’ Category

Every spring, for the past five years, I am amazed at the mounds of fire ants that develop in our yard and garden areas. Almost overnight (not really) it just suddenly seems like they are everywhere.

I definitely have a love-hate relationship with fire ants (also known as red imported fire ants – solenopsis invicta). Love and hate are both pretty strong words to associate with fire ants, maybe it should be more “like” and “dislike.”

Fire ants 1

It is hard to have any nice and tender thoughts about fire ants when a few of them have attached themselves to your ankle or leg, and are stinging away. The fiery pain from the sting is finally reaching your brain and you are swiping them off you.  As you hop around, stamping your feet, chances are a few not so pretty words might escape from your lips.

In reality the fire ant bite isn’t what causes the pain, they bite you in order to hang on and get a good grip so they can insert their stinger and get the venom in you…. that is when you start feeling the fire. Unlike the honey bee, the fire ant can sting you repeatedly and then get back to what ever it was they were doing.

Fire ants 2I will admit that I have taken great pleasure in wiping out mound after mound of fire ants using a locally made organic product called Anti Fuego that is made by Gardenville. The product is a concentrated mixture of things like molasses and orange oil (and a few other things) and it is designed to drench and conditions mounds and soils….. but it’s main purpose, for me, is to kill fire ants. After all, who wants fire ants around?

Well, I am going to ask you to have an open mind here. If we wipe out all the “bad” insects and bugs there will be nothing for the good guys to eat thus creating an unequal balance in the greater scope of things. I have understood that principle for many years, but fire ants? Come on! Really?

Yes, fire ants do have a purpose in life. That is really hard believe when you are being stung!

So, why would anyone want to keep them around? Fire ants voraciously consume populations of fleas, ticks, termites, cockroaches, chinch bugs, mosquito eggs and larva, scorpions, etc. That seems enough to persuade me to keep them around (within reason!)

I try to peacefully co-exist with them, and that isn’t always easy, but it is worth it for the good work that they do. I will let them do their work as long as they don’t take up residence in the walkways through the yard or in the gardens. It is an ongoing battle. This plan works for us , but that doesn’t mean it will work for others. Fire ants cause severe damage to cattle and wild life, and their mounds can cause terrible damage to farm equipment.

Fire ants 3In our yard, a few of the places that the fire ants love to take up residence are in my piles of composted horse manure, dirt/compost piles and under anything that lies on the ground (like a floor mat, garbage can, piece of plywood.) When I am loading my wheelbarrow with manure to take to the garden, I am very aware. When I go to the ranch to pick up piles of manure, I am even more aware. It is really no fun to be an hour from home, standing in a mound of fire ants while loading my truck with manure and have no way to treat the stings.

When a fire ant stings you, you will feel immediate sharp pain that just seems to continue to burn and eventually will start to itch. Within 24 hours a raised white pustule forms and remains for several days. This isn’t an infection, but if you break it open you are increasing your chances of that area becoming infected (fun stuff huh!) People with diabetes or compromised immune systems have the potential for other problems, especially if they have been stung numerous times. While a few strings do not usually constitute a major medical emergency, there is a small percentage of people that develop allergic reactions to fire ant venom. These vary in intensity, but in the most extreme cases even a few stings can result in the life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis.

Fire ants 4

I manage to get stung several times a year, usually around 3-7 stings at a time. They are always on my ankles and hands/wrists and are just plain bothersome. For me it is the sting and itch that feels OH SO GOOD when you itch it, but you never get any relief from itching it, just more sting and itch. I have tired several home remedies like baking soda paste, meat tenderizer and clear nail polish with no results of relief what so ever. So far, the only remedy that I have found that gives me any relief at all is Vick Vapor-rub! When I head out to pick up a load of manure or dirt I always make sure I have a jar of Vicks with me. I have the best results if I can get the Vicks on the sting locations immediately; if I wait just 5 minutes I will develop the red swelling bump, pain and itching, granted it is much less that it would be without applying the Vicks. In the photo above, I was stung 2-3 times and there is hardly a mark left because I applied the Vicks immediately!

I would like to work on making my own vapo-rub. Vicks active ingredients are camphor, eucalyptus and menthol and as I think about making my own fire-ant relieving variation, I think about rosemary, thyme and eucalyptus essential oils as a possible combination, maybe even some tea tree.

I don’t see fire ants moving out of our area any time in the near or distant future, so I will try to co-exist semi-peacefully with them and keep a jar of Vicks on hand until I can make up some of my own variation.

Do you have any secrets for dealing with fire ants in your area?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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No, I’m not talking about the Hormel tinned “meat” product made from what was formerly known as ham (Shoulder of Pork and Ham). No, I’m not talking about Society for the Publication of American Music, the Space Planning and Management, or the Solar Powered Area Monitor. What the heck am I talking about?

I am talking about the SPAM that you get on your blog in the SPAM box.

No, this sunflower doesn’t’ have anything to do with this post at all. It’s just pretty!

If you look in a dictionary you will find two definitions of SPAM:

  • “A tinned meat product made from ham”
  • “Inappropriate or irrelevant messages sent via the internet to a large number of users”

“Inappropriate” and “irrelevant” pretty much covers most of it. And most of the time, it is just plain frustrating to see all that SPAM. From time to time I will find a legitimate comment that was routed to the SPAM folder. Aside from that, it is was it is… SPAM. Do they really think we are going to approve their comment with a link to something totally inappropriate and unrelated on all levels? Really? I don’t feel the need to advertise a certain Canadian Pharmacy that is selling certain enhancement drugs for amazingly low prices and I really am not interesting in pursuing the real estate in _______ (fill in the blank with what ever place you want to.)

In my book, there is a third type of SPAM comment – the one that can really lift your spirits and make you feel good (even though it still truly is SPAM!)  These people take time out of their busy day to say words of encouragement and send me a link to their website  – where I might find such helpful things as real estate, or where to buy gold or silver or even find pharmaceuticals in Canada. And let’s not loose that link to buying plastics on line or a certain special dating service in the Netherlands.

I must say, the encouraging words are so nice to read, but completely make no sense when you look at what post they have comments on…. “you have awesome ideas that you know how to express in so easy way” posted on Sunday Photos: Red! Well, I am glad photos of “red” made sense to you and that you think I know how to “express” it in such and “easy way.”

Not only do we (the wonderful contributors at NDIN) have such awesome ideas, but we get a lot of “thank you’s” and “appreciation” from these Spammers:

  • “Thanks to your post I can solve some of my problems, thank you”
  • “This is an awesome post, I appreciated it”
  • “Thank you for providing us so many information, I always learn something here” (oh, they learned something – now we’re talkin’)
  • “I really appreciate coming here everyday to see what’s new on your website, and I already told my friends to do the same” (they told all their friends on that “Special dating “website in the Netherlands that I mentioned earlier! So thoughtful, aren’t they?!

We are motivational, we are hard workers, we have great ideas:

  • “You are such a hard worker” – spam comment on my personal blog on this photo post.  Yup, it was hard taking a photo of a flower!
  • “You have awesome ideas that you know how to express in so easy way” attached to this post on the deer that got into my back yard.
  • “I love your posts, but I like this one more than the others, so i read it all over again” – Oh that’s so nice, but it is just photos.
  • “Your motivational words are very helpful to me”

It is so nice to know we are being helpful and informative (and intelligent too):

  • “I’m going to bookmark you here so I will be able to read at your new articles whenever I want. thanks for helping”
  • “A friend recommended your website and I’m glad he did because it is very informative and entertaining”
  • “This text is very well written, you must be a really intelligent person, keep up the good work”

Do you think the spammers think that if they are complimentary and nice in the SPAM comments that I will be smiling and think they are so nice that I should just click on their link to see what it is really about? Aahh, NO! The only reason I skim through the comments is to make sure a legitimate comment didn’t get over there by accident.

Has any of the SPAM comments in your box caught your attention before?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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mustards and kales
With more evidence pointing towards illnesses linked to pesticides, I find it important to teach people how to naturally (preferably organically) take care of their gardens. Instead of a hefty shot of “Wonder Grow” ::cough::, I prefer to use fixes and fertilizers that aren’t so caustic – some that will treat the problem instead of forcing my plants to outgrow diseases and illnesses and therefore leaving the problem in my soil.

Our garden was a “Wonder Grow” garden before we moved in, and the soil showed it. It’s taken me three years to see the results of my amendments, and it’s worth the wait! I can finally say with confidence that I will have product of out my garden instead of just hoping for one or two tomatoes. Plus I know that I’m feeding my family anything better than I can buy because it’s picked fresh and served – nothing but fresh organic goodness.

wasp eggs
The best way to help your plants is to keep all tools and areas clean so as not to spread disease. Tidy up dead foliage and keep weeds trimmed back. Allow an area for overgrowth so that beneficials can make a home nearby. Just remember that if a chemical can harm an insect you deem harmful, that chemical can probably hurt your beneficial insects as well. Keep a toad house and welcome swallows to munch on insects.
moth on mum

My favorite quick fixes and alternatives to boxed fertilizers:

Iron deficiency: make soil more acidic by adding pine needles, coffee grounds, or seaweed extracts. Oak leaves may also be good for increasing acidity.

Nitrogen deficiency: composted manure, blood or alfalfa meal, fish emulsion. Weed and manure teas. Add comfrey as a mulch or compost. Underplant or cover crop the bed with clover or other legumes.

Phosphorus deficiency: compost, leaf mold, bonemeal, colloidal or rock phosphate.

Potassium deficiency: kelp meal, greensand, wood ashes (use only a small amount).

Powdery mildew: spray plants with a mixture of 1 tsp baking soda to 1 qt water.

Blossom end rot: add finely powdered eggshells or oyster shells and lime which can help the uptake of your calcium source. Keep soil evenly moist.

Damping off: keep soil evenly damp. Sprinkle with cinnamon, or use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. Be sure seed starting mix and potting supplies are sterile.

Thrips and Aphids: use ladybugs or wipe leaves with a gentle cloth and a combination of 1c alcohol to 1 qt water.

Corn earworms: add a drop of mineral oil to the top of the corn once the silk has wilted.

Slugs and other soft bodied insects: sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants and on leaves.

slug
Simple Recipes

Manure tea: fill a bucket or large container 1/8 with manure (composted 8 or more weeks, chicken manure for a year or more) and fill with water. Let steep for about two days before using. This is a concentrate and must be watered down until it is a light red/brown color prior to use.

Compost tea: mix 1/8 bucket of well composted material and water. Let steep for 5-7 days. Strain and dilute before using. Molasses Spray for Leaf Miners: 1 part molasses to 5 parts water

Rodale’s All-Purpose Spray: (discourages leaf-eating pests) 1 garlic bulb, 1 small onion, 1 tsp powdered cayenne pepper 1 qt water 1 Tbsp liquid dish soap. Chop onion and garlick in blender then add pepper and water. Allow to steep for an hour before straining. Add dish soap before spraying. Can be stored in refrigerator for up to a week.

Soap spray: 1 tsp pure bar soap shavings 1/8 cup boiling water, 7/8 cup water. Dissolve soap with boiling water then add remainder of water. Spray insects by getting both top and bottoms of leaves. Best applied in the evening.

References: The Frugal Gardener: How to Have More Garden for Less Money, Erler, Catriona T., 1999. The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control, edited by Ellis, Barbara W. and Bradley, Fern Marshall, 1992

*****

You can find Jennifer over at Unearthing This Life blarging about her daily activities in rural Tennessee.

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When walking through my gardens all seems so lovely…

Blueberries are blooming…

Spinach is up and thriving…

Chives are a bloomin’!

Yet there is trouble in paradise, let’s go over to the pea patch…

I have critter issues…I’m presuming the are field mice, which would be appropriate since we live in the middle of a big former cow pasture!  They seem to love peas the most (although I have seen them cut off a tomato seedling and try to pull it down their hole!)

In years past I have tried keeping mouse traps around the garden, they were very effective but I can not tell you how much I hated taking the little corpses out of the traps, discarding of the bodies, bating and resetting the traps.

This year I hung these on the pea fence hoping the racket would keep them at bay…

They were effective keeping the birds from getting the pea seeds but as you can see by the arrow that the mice weren’t bothered at all by them.

Our cat is a good mouse but with 10 acres to patrol he only is marginally effective on the garden area.

Besides he tends to poop in the new beds…yuck!

So here is my question this morning…any of you have some advice on how to deal with mice in the garden?

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she is raising organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a camel!

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Compared to previous years, it has so far been a summer free of bears here in the valley. Friends visiting have been disappointed to see none on the hour long drive from the foot of the hill down the valley to our community, and I’ve heard of no home or chicken shed invasions since late spring. One theory is that this summer’s forest fires have spooked them all back up the side valleys; if that’s the case, maybe we should organize for a controlled burn every spring!

Not that there haven’t been close encounters. My own was in July, when my dog was more than usually vocal one night. Usually she’ll bark off an intruder once or twice a night, while I lie in bed judging the size of the attacker by the distance Tui moves away from the house towards the perimeter fences. If I hear her echoing against the forest in the distance, it’s a fox, while if she stays close to the front porch and whines, it’s a cougar.

This night it was an in-between barking distance so I knew it was a bear, whose size I didn’t know until dawn when I went out to free the turkeys, laying chickens and meat birds from their respective barns. The stucco wire fence and gate adjoining two of them had been broken down, probably with one swipe of a massive paw, dragging a rail along with a six inch nail away from a wall (see photo).

Fence rail smashed down beside meat bird run.

Fence rail smashed down beside meat bird run.

He or she (I suspect it was a she as each year I meet a mama grizzly in our yard with her cubs at some point) was probably excited by the smell or sound of our turkey flock, several of whom perch on the open window sill behind stucco wire, to take advantage of some cooler night breezes. If the bear had been insistent (as we had seen on other properties) our plywood walls would not still have been standing, but they were. I walked thirty meters along the fence line to the forest edge, the bear’s normal trail and entry point into our property, and sure enough, there was the flattened trail in the same place as previous years.

Fence smashed beside turkey barn.

Fence smashed beside turkey barn.

I began taking my windfall apples and dumping them there as peace offering, but they haven’t been touched in three weeks. This hot summer has meant a good year for wild berries, and now the creeks are full of writhing salmon, so we may be spared any bear predations this fall.

Bear path into my yard where I leave apples for her.

Bear path into my yard where I leave apples for her.

Nevertheless, it would be foolish to give myself or you the impression that the bears aren’t around. My friend Clarence told me just the other day that his daughter, who lives across the highway from his place ‘on our side’ (as he put it ominously) stepped out from her back door last week midmorning to confront a grizzly only meters away. And when I went to pick blackberries in Clarence’s patch last week in the last of our heat, I was un-nerved to come across a maze of flattened vines and grasses. I suddenly felt I was in the middle of a vast alfresco restaurant, with various intimate nooks where bears had lain in the shadows and feasted on the berries hanging off the ‘walls’ in all directions. It was strange to think that a giant paw may have recently brushed over the very berries I was now tenderly plucking. Clarence confirmed the fact by complaining that there is a mama black bear and cub that have been frolicking in the blackberry patch “flattening it and making a mess”.

While picking I was always on the lookout for the mama ‘just in case’. My theoretical ‘bum-per’ sticker says ‘I brake for bears.’

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I have a friend, she has a lovely garden with blooming flower borders, lacy trees for shade, a darling garden house, a huge play-set for her grandchildren, and this…

perm3

A vegetable garden that has taken many of her gardening issues and solved them…permanently!

You see as a teenager she broke her neck, she has had serious neck issues ever since.  This precludes her from being able to bend over to tend her garden.  These raised beds have solved that for her.

perm2

She also has many deer that call her neighborhood home.  These hoops are affixed permanently to the sides of each bed with bird netting over the top to keep the deer from nibbling on her produce.  They are also used in the early spring and late fall for frost protection.

I am wanting to do something like this to my raised beds.

She has even gone to the extreme of pouring concrete around the beds to keep down the mess which our rainy Washington weather is known to make.  She also has noted that the concrete helps make for a micro climate the warms sooner and retains heat. 

perm1

Here is her celery crop all tucked in nicely to their bed, covered and protected.

I am tired of trying to solve the same problems year after year, I really want to make smart decisions that will solve these issues once and for all.  So over the last bit of summer and into the fall I am going to try to implement some solutions that will make gardening easier not just for now but for the long haul.  I will keep you updated on this…

Now here is my question for you, as well as myself

What are you doing in your garden to permanently solve some of your garden challenges?

 

 

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That’s it…I’ve had it!

I have one unplanted row in my cane berry patch.  I plan on planting it in the spring.  I have weeded it, mulched and weeded it again and again till I’m completely sick of it!

Yes I could cover the whole thing with black plastic but I want to kill, destroy, and otherwise annihilate the weeds, especially the thistle.

So I’m going to bring out the large artillery…I’m going to solarize it!

Solarizing is a method of essentially cooking any weed seed and lurking diseases in your soil.  It is cheap, easy, and very effective.

First I’m pulling out all the weeds…I have mostly thistle and blackberry.

Then I will lightly work the soil,  level it as much as possible (this was sod just a few months ago so it is still ‘lumpy’)

Next you need to wet the soil thoroughly…to approximately 1 foot in depth.

Cover the whole blooming thing with clear plastic…

And let the sun cook the life right out of your weed seeds…and any remaining weeds that are hiding there!

According to my research this method is supposed to help with the release of nutrients in any organic material in the soil.  It can also raise the temperature in the ground enough to kill wilt and root rot fungi.  I really just want revenge on the weed seeds…that is all I’m asking!

I have used this method often in the early spring to warm the temperature of the soil for heat lovin’ plants like peppers…in fact I left the plastic on over an extended hot streak this year before I planted out my pepper bed and have wondered all season why this is the one bed I have had very few weeds in…this must be the reason!

Anyway I’m going to leave the plastic on the rest of the summer (4 weeks is the minimum you can leave it on to be effective) and this fall I will plant the row with a cover crop.  Next spring after tilling in the cover crop,  my newest cane berries should be happy as can be in their new…hopefully weed free…garden row!

So go and take advantage of the sun and let it zap those weeds before they even come up to make you grumpy next spring!

 

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Pinkeye

Fly season has begun. They are always a challenge when you have livestock. Fortunately our animals don’t spend much time in the barn when it’s warm and the chickens do a pretty good job cleaning up the pasture and eliminating the flies. They still make me a bit paranoid. Growing up we were obsessed with eliminating flies because they caused so much disease and distress which resulted in lower productivity. This fear is pretty prevalentin the cattle industry. All sorts of chemical concoctions have been invented with lots of creative ways of applying them. Sprays, powders, rubs, automated misters, fly traps, scratching posts that administer the chemicals while the cow rubs against it, etc. I’ve even seen a pasture vacuum to suck up all the manure and any bugs that it may harbor. For us, beyond the chickens and careful attention to manure management, we don’t do much in the way of fly control. When I tell farmers around here what we do for flies, the first response I get is “that wouldn’t work for us.” The second thing (sometimes the first thing) that is said is “you must have a lot of problems with pinkeye.) For a lot of people that seems to be a real problem. I remember using all kinds of shots, sometimes right into the eye, powders, and glue on patches to try to treat pinkeye and keep it from spreading in a herd. I know natural beef producers who have 10 – 15% of their calves dropped from the program because of pinkeye and the treatment options they use. I’ve seen animals blinded, eyes exploded and then removed, and pinkeye that has turned into an abscess and killed the animal. It can be a huge problem, and flies are a vector for spreading it. A few years ago I managed a herd of dairy goats. We had a good, natural, fly control program similar to the one I currently use. We hadn’t had a case of pinkeye in years. One summer we planted a new field with sorghum/Sudan grass to increase our hot season forage. With in three days of turning the goats into the new pasture we had our first case of pinkeye. Several more showed up the next day. This was a problem. We were milking these goats in a Grade A Organic Raw Milk dairy. Most of the treatment options the vet recommended would make the milk unusable and the goat no longer Organically certified. Not a good option. After some more research into alternatives, we hit on cod liver oil. Two ml squirted into the eye and 10 ml given orally. We treated the goats with pinkeye and then the whole herd with oral cod liver oil. As fast as the problem appeared it disappeared. It turns out that pinkeye is an indicator of vitamin A deficiency. Most of our pastures were minerally well balanced and had a diverse mix of grass, forbs, and legumes. The new pasture hadn’t had enough work done to balance the soil, and was planted in a single crop. (I suspect the sorghum/Sudan grass isn’t as well balanced even in good soil. I’ve seen lots of problems associated with it.) Once we identified the deficiency we were able to meet the need with a suplement. The only other time I had a pinkeye problem was when I was feeding hay purchased from an “organic” farm that was not minerally ballances. Attending to the quality of the soil and the feed produced on that soil will get you much better results than waging war with the flies.

 

I think there are lessons to be learned here as far as human health is concerned.  Food grown in soil that is properly ballanced promotes health.  Food that is deficient in something, because it was grown in soil that was deficient promotes disease.

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Some time in March, while brainstorming about how I could make a living off my land where there is such a tiny population based (and a fairly economically challenged one at that), a friend of mine suggested that I work towards making the place an education/demonstration farm. While talking about the idea he proffered that the likes of David Suzuki (Vancouver’s most famous environmentalist) might be interested in supporting the farm, and also suggested the Vancouver based universities that have agriculture programs may also be interested in working with me to teach sustainability and self-sufficiency.

About a week and a half ago, with that friend’s idea in mind, I finally decided to take a look at the Suzuki Foundation web page  just to see what he was up to. I didn’t get very far into the site when I happened upon a call for submissions. David Suzuki, is running a contest for pesticide free gardeners this summer. They say you don’t have to be a master gardener to play a starring role in the ‘David Suzuki Digs My Garden’ contest. They want a passionate storyteller who believes pesticide-free growing is the way of the future–which needless to say I do–that they can follow this summer in video, pictures and print, from soil prep and composting, through seeding and weeding, to reaping the harvest. There was  an e-form to fill in so I did, and promptly went to bed. While it is not exactly what I was looking for, it certainly would be a good opportunity to start with if I make the cut!

The next day, I received an email saying I was accepted to the second phase; the video audition. How exciting! There were, of course, many problems with this: I didn’t have a video camera, I didn’t know anyone with a video camera, I hadn’t ever used a video camera, I live 500 kilometers from the nearest store with a video camera, and no, I can’t buy one over the phone from the Vancouver camera stores. Consequently, I spent Saturday hunting down some options  via the internet, and finally a friend in Vancouver came to my rescue: he bought the camera and put it on the plane to Bella Coola last Sunday morning.

It arrived at 1:30 pm that Sunday afternoon. I spent the afternoon reading the instruction booklet whilst charging its batteries, then wrote my script and practiced it twice on an old tape-style video camera (that won’t let me translate it to an AVI file so I can upload it to You-tube as the Suzuki Foundation requests) and honed it down to about 90 seconds. There were, of course, several technical glitches along the way, or example I got half way through what was going to be my final take–on the newly charged, fancy, digital, jet-lagged camera–and then hit something that made the whole thing mute and couldn’t figure out how to undo it!!!

It is amazing that in this tiny valley there are still plenty of people I have not met. I am continually surprised by the number of talented, creative, and technically savvy people who come out of the woodwork. Lucky for me, Buddy Thatcher materialized just in time–we stood in front of each other for the first time the previous day when he came to the farm to pick up eggs for some community event! Buddy, who owns ‘Box o’ Bones Productions’ agreed to come to my aid. He edited out some of the wind in the outside shots along and added a few other technical details–all for the price of a basket full of my produce.

Thanks to my friend encouraging me to think about my farm differently, the technical savvy of Buddy, and my other friend in Vancouver who did the running around town shopping spree and courier service, I managed to find this opportunity and get the video complete–and with a day to spare!

Here is the final product:

Although this was my first ‘feature film’, I found the whole experience so creatively stimulating, that I’m thinking of expanding into more short films to document my life and work here. I have spent this past year writing words and am now intrigued to write scripts and story-boards for this visual medium. I am now continually thinking about the video camera and what would make nice clips and/or shots. Of course, I have yet to actually get to the stage of bringing it with me so I can actually catch those moments!

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Originally published at Women Not Dabbling by emphelan

On the last episode of the Survivalist series, I was asked to talk a little bit more about the throwing knife. I picked up my first throwing knife when I was 15 years old.
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When I was a young Goth girl, I was fascinated with knives, swords, long bows and the like. My Masquerade character was dressed to the hilt with all odds of weaponry. Yes, I was an RPG geek in the day. I showed up at a Flea Market, dress in combat boots, bright green corduroys, and Cure shirt and purple hair, wondering around looking at the sad state the the majority of booths were in. One vendor had this strange collection of dragon statues, old records and steel weapons. I always thought that he too was a RPG geek like myself, just older. I was fingering one of his expensive knives when he approached me. No doubt thought I was going to pocket it. But I digress, the man approached me and asked if I had knew how to throw. I told him no, and then asked him in my teen angst disgust, does he? He chuckled and held a finger up for me to wait a moment. Then walked away to talk to someone else. He than came back, picked up, not the expensive ones and beckoned me to follow. Ok, we you are surviving on your own, I really don’t suggest following a strange man into an alley that is carrying knives, but, it was a good thing that I did. For this was my first encounter with the art of knife throwing. As soon as we stepped out the back, he threw the knife before my eyes could grasp what was happening and stuck the knife beautifully into a box. He turned and smiled down at me. He walked over, pulled the knife, and handed it to me. Without any instructions, but to throw, the knife slipped sweetly out of my fingertips, and bounced off the box, landing on the concrete.

Of course this was embarrassing, but it was a start, and when you are first learning, knives bouncing off your target will be common place. This man in the Flea Market spent a good hour with me. Showing me and lecturing me in the art of knife throwing. It’s concept is simple, stick the knife into the heart of your target, quickly, smoothly and efficiently.

First we need to talk about weight. I would never buy a knife online, simply because you need to feel the weight. Even machine made knives will have a slight difference in balance. You want to feel that difference. In the beginning you want a knife that weighs about 200g, anything lighter will be hard to control, anything heavier will strain your fingers. Take your knife by the handle, between your thumb and index finger, point the blade toward the ground. Now jerk your arm down in the direction your knife is pointing in, if the handle wobbles or the knife comes out of your fingers, it is too heavy for you. You also need to check the balance of the knife. It should be in its center, or a hair off in either direction. Balance your knife on your index finger, until you find that balance. If the handle is too heavy, you will not get predictable throws. If one side is heavier than the other and you love the knife anyways, always grasp and throw the lightest end. Don’t worry about getting cut. Throwing knives have no sharp sides, only the point. And if you tend to obsess over things, do not buy a knife that allows you to balance it with weights.

As for how to throw, I read a great step by step article this morning. It sums it up and doesn’t take all the space here. How to Throw Knives on Knifethrowinginfo.com

As for my story, I didn’t end up with the, too pricey for a 15 year old, but I did pick up a cheaper set, one that I still have and use today.

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