In the article Growing Sugar Snap Peas in a Container, I commented on the variety I selected being cold tolerant down to 28 degrees. I inadvertently tested that claim. I have the peas growing in 12" x 18" grow-boxes on the patio. I cover them with gardening fabric at night. Well, I took off for the evening without covering the peas. A fast moving snow storm rolled in and dumped three inches of snow on the ground - including my patio. The peas sat in the dark under that cold blanket of snow for four hours before I got home. I looked at the snow covered peas and was sure it was colder than 28 degrees and that I had killed them. I quickly brushed the snow off the peas and covered them for the night - hoping for the best and fearing the worst. Well, the new day dawned bright but cold. After a few hours the patio had warmed up to 38 degrees. So, I took the cover off the peas to find them tall, perky and no worse for having been smothered in snow. It's wonderful to grow a vegetable plant tough enough to survive my neglect.
My family and I recently experienced an extended power outage due to a windstorm with gusts over 100 mph. We were well prepared and endured the outage comfortably. Still, I learned a few things I can do to improve my emergency preparedness.
We are well stocked with flashlights and I have a outdoor propane lantern that cranks out the light. Of course I couldn't use the propane lantern in the house and the flashlights aren't group friendly. What I wanted but didn't have is an indoor lantern bright enough to light a large area for meals or playing boardgames.
We have a propane grill in the backyard. I cooked our meals on the gas grill. It worked - but it was an uncomfortable challenge to cook on a gas grill in high winds. Again, I found myself wanting a portable stove that is safe for indoor use.
Here are two products I'm leaning toward purchasing:
GASONE Portable Gas Stove. It's currently listed on Amazon.com for $21.75. It burns butane and is described as safe for indoor use. The price is right for my budget and it has received a significant number of favorable reviews.
Rayovac SE3DLN Sportsman Xtreme 300-Lumen LED Lantern. It's currently listed on Amazon.com for $18.99. Again, priced right for the budget and a significant number of favorable reviews.
Sam from Nebraska writes:
Caught a coyote sneaking up on my chickens and turkeys last night. A friend of mine had loaned me a 243 with a green laser light. I ran down to the barn, opened the back door turned the light on the coyote -- lit him up like a Christmas tree -- and shot him in the head (lucky shot). He couldn't see the green light at all and acted like no one could see him. Bad mistake.
No more dead turkeys and chickens.
Alan from Ohio responded:
Not to go all crunchy on you, but ...
Predators are very important. They manage the ecosystem. We don't. Just look at Yellowstone. When they put the wolves back, the streams came back. The wolves manage the populations, partly by culling the weak, but mostly by changing how they move. The movement lets the riparian zones recover from over grazing. If you have top predators in your area, your management job is protecting your flock, not killing off the predators. Our long term survival depends on sustainable systems, and we have ZERO skills as systems managers.
You are right to a point. Problem is, we are being over-run by coyotes and they are completely out of balance. I'm always in favor of a nice balanced system, but they don't exist any more, especially around here. I saw a picture of a pack with 24 coyotes in it a week or so ago -- taken just a few miles from my house.
They call out and kill your dogs, kill and eat newborn calves, spread rabies and other diseases and generally cause lots of problems. I help keep the balance by killing a few but we still need to kill more -- way too many for a good balance.
Around here we killed off all the dumb coyotes years ago and have selected for big, smart song dogs. The only ones left are extremely smart, completely nocturnal and determined to eat my chickens. I have a great chicken coop with doors and I will still try to kill any coyote that comes close. Which, by the way is extremely difficult -- hence the green laser light.
I had a pack of coyotes chasing one of my new born calves a few weeks ago -- at 3:00 in the morning. Had I not stepped in I would have lost a $1000 heifer. Going back to a supposed "balanced" system would mean that I have to give some of my calves to the coyotes each year and that ain't goin'a happen.
Coyotes and gophers -- kill as many as possible and there will still be too many of them.
The only good coyote is a dead one.
That's my rant,
Glen from Utah responds:
Rants are good. You make very good points. Based on Sam's description it is pretty clear he only shoots the dumb coyotes that would starve to death anyway. With all due respect to Sam... he'd never get a shot at a smart one!
OH I love a good rant!!!
Been where you are. Shot lots of preds. Changed calving season so it coincided with all the deer and elk. That one thing mostly eliminated the calf predation problem.
Here's what I learned. A population will grow to the limit of it's food supply. If it's growing, we must be doing something that increases its food supply. That's where you fix the problem. You can't shoot your way out of it. Found this true with 2000 head cow calf operation on 80000 acres in Wyoming wilderness and with beans on the edge of a corn field in Ohio.
Love to bash this one around more.
In the panhandle of Nebraska there is no public land and every inch is used as farmland or pasture and has been for over 100 years. I can't change calving season to coincide with deer or elk as we essentially have no deer or elk. Everything here is artificially managed and has been forever.
Any balance or imbalance we have -- we have created. So what you are saying is to control coyote populations I should go kill rabbits, mice and gophers. I'm in favor of that as the rabbits eat the bark off my trees. Or, I could go shoot the neighbor's cows as the coyotes have been getting some of them.
Rabbit population around here naturally cycles and the cycle has to do with weather, disease, etc. and has almost nothing to do with what the ranchers or farmers are doing. Coyote populations tend to follow the rabbit populations.
Problem is, our coyotes love to eat chickens and calves more than they love to eat rabbits and even when we have lots of rabbits (like this year) the coyotes still go after the calves and chickens and dogs.
I completely agree that you can't shoot your way out of the problem. My goal is to move the coyotes to my neighbors place. The more I shoot -- the fewer coyotes I have on my property and the more coyotes my neighbor has.
I call it survival of the loudest. I keep the coyotes away, more than anything, by shooting on a regular basis, especially at 10 or 12 o-clock at night -- even when I don't see any coyotes. Killing a few also sends a strong message.
There is no such thing as "wild" or "natural" in America, just what we create and then pretend to be wild or natural. In today's world we manage everything -- from the number of elk in Yellowstone to the number of gophers on my property.
Wild and/or natural will never exist again and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Of course, you are right. But understanding the dynamic makes it possible to manage in a different direction. It isn't fast, easy, or maybe even "cost effective", yet if we don't move our practices to a more naturally balanced system, we will never survive. I manage my cows and goats in a totally UNnatural way except for the fact that they move pasture every couple of days, and I control health by controling mineral balance and diet. I manage my beans the same way, I fixed the mexican bean beatle problem by changing the mineral balance in the soil. Suddenly the neighbors toxic soy beans were better than my green beans. It's a long road, and we will have to shoot our way through part of it. But if we don't have a balanced, sustainable system out there somewhere as an ideal, we will go broke shooting the next pest.
I’m a momma’s boy at heart - always have been, always will be. The perks have been endless - from chocolate and vanilla pinwheel cookies as a young child to attending cheese-making classes as a pre-teen to ultimately inheriting her green thumb through years of her patient tutoring as we worked side-by-side in her vegetable garden. Though my mom passed away many years ago, the love of gardening she instilled in me continues unabated.
Most years I’ve had a large, successful garden. However, I took a break from gardening after the births of my two youngest children. I found I couldn’t maintain my large garden plot. What I had loved in the past became a source of frustration. I’d look out the kitchen window and see the garden overrun with weeds, vegetables overripe and gone to waste. I felt guilt and frustration over the waste and what might have been.
Ultimately I took out the garden plot, including my raspberry and blackberry plants. I replaced the garden plot with a large basketball court – fertile ground for two active, growing boys.
Still, my desire to garden remained. On a cold, bleak December day I decided to setup a small indoor garden. I purchased several window-box planters, potting soil and beet seed. I love beet greens and that seemed a good place to start. By late winter I was enjoying the fresh greens and my indoor garden had significantly expanded. I decided to start all my vegetable plants rather than buy started plants from the local garden center.
Much to the frustration of my spouse, my indoor garden had taken over an entire corner of the kitchen. Squash, melons, tomatoes, peas, kohlrabi and so forth were thriving under grow lights in my kitchen. Unfortunately my relationship with my spouse wasn’t thriving. She claimed to be living in fear of a DEA drug raid due to the fluorescent glow spilling out the kitchen windows.Simply put, the plants and I were booted out of the kitchen.
We moved into the garage for a short time. That didn’t really work either because the fluorescent glow moved with us. Even worse, the neighbors could see “green things” growing in the garage. There was no choice but to move my not so little garden outdoors. But how? I had no garden plot. Even if I had, the ground was far to cold for planting. The solution was containers – a container garden. The roots of the plants would be safely above the cold ground and I could cover the containers to keep the plants sufficiently warm and to give them time to condition to a life outdoors.
I quickly started acquiring and building garden containers. I purchased raised bed garden soil in bulk. Soon my garden was outdoors and thriving and I had discovered gardening in a way that fit with raising two young and very active boys.
The kids loved working with me in the container garden. We made labels for each container. Watering was easy and weeding was almost non-existent. The container garden expanded to include strawberries, blueberries, Jerusalem artichokes, cucumbers, beets and many other plants.
Harvesting was a breeze and became second nature. The boys would stop playing ball to pick and eat the strawberries. They would come into the house with cucumbers and “baby” carrots and beets. Most importantly, the boys enjoy gardening, eating the fresh produce and learning self-reliance skills. And for me… I’m grateful for a mom that grew a boy into a man.