Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Life after Suicide

It has been around two years since my last post.  The initial bait shop has died after I was sent away for nine months as a result of shooting myself in the chest with a .22 Ruger pistol which my wife witnessed.
  I now live alone as a mentally-ill outpatient across the mountains some fifteen miles from the old bait shop, my home, the loves of my life (Lucendy, Katrina, and Kelsie Bug).
 It is here, in a cabin on my parents property that I reside endeavoring to once again build a new bait shop from scratch beneath the depressive burden of lost love, hypomania, bipolarism, and possibly a multi-faceted personality.
 Currently the new bait shop consists of a small styrofoam cooler half-filled with salad waste but no worms as of yet.
To convey my mood I am adding links to two of my songs that I have uploaded to youtube after writing and performing them:

Life's So Crazy

Let It Go

Thank you for reading my blog.  I will write more soon, but for now I am out to collect grass clippings to add to the evolving worm bin.

May 20, 2015
I caught a huge earth worm today and placed him in the new and tiny bin.  One step at a time, right?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Day with Worms

How do I get started raising worms?

Of course most of us have some knowledge of worms.  And I as many have long aspired to raise worms for sale and pleasure but was forever delaying the project until one day as I was helping a friend move from a cabin to a house, she asked if I would like a bin of Meal worms that she grew in a tub beneath her bed for lizard treats.  I accepted them and from then until now (over the span of 18 months) have consistently maintained some type of worm population here at the market.  And though I am not currently raising Meal worms, I do have a population of Red Wigglers as depicted in the photo.

What type of worm would be good to start with?

Having learned much on this subject from various sites and visitors and having handled the Meal, Earth, and Red Wiggler, I discovered that the latter is, for me, the easiest to manage because I could use a shallower bed of soil for better access compared to night crawlers which burrow deep though special care should be taking in the winter as the Reds prefer the top three inches of soil and are comfortable between 50 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit .  The Night Crawler species burrow down to six feet deep and has a better chance of surviving the permafrost.

What should I keep them in?

Currently I have my population in a metal bathtub (non insulated) and anticipate this winter's experience to develop the skills needed to maintain a year round colony.
A plastic or wooden container is a better choice than iron but if I must I will wrap my current bin in R11 insulation scraps that I have stored in the barn from our room addition to this house (converted shed) we built upon moving here some four years ago.

What do I feed them?

Beside the kitchen counter where we prepare our food I have a small bucket lined with lined with a plastic bag in which I dump the daily (choice) trimmings to be carried to the bin.  Acidic and dairy matter is not recommended.  I also use coffee grounds and mowed grass, and as you can see from the photo, rabbit pellets.
Though my endeavor has been successful to date, I do have much to learn and hope to share that with you as my experience develops.

State of December

We transferred the worms from the bathtub to an old refrigerator that sits face up and horizontal in a small building attached to the barn.  The bin is on blocks with the doors still attached and vented.
Concerned with below 40 degree temps, I stacked old straw from the chicken coop atop the worm bedding.
Checking the state of the worms days afterward I noticed that the worms had multiplied, were vigorous but all streaming along the bedding edges.  It was hot, very hot in the bin due to the decomposing of the straw and insulation of the fridge so I cleared a straw-free surface circle to allow a heat release so that the wigglers could move to a cooler spot if desired.
I also moistened the bedding after noticing that it was a little dry.  Later I will check to see if the worms are still pooling about the edges.
days afterwards I dumped the entire bin, piked and held most of the worms in a reserve bucket, chose the fine bedding and placed it back in the bin along with the worms.  A heat lamp is keeping them worm and the light from it prevents them from crawling out.  They are doing fine.
Since then I ordered 250 crickets, built a bin for them and am now spending time studying how best to manage them.
The bait shop evolves with knowledge and work.
Still thriving and growing, the worms are cozy in there heat-lamp warmed fridge bin.  The crickets are doing not as well.  Many were DOA, but I am struggling the elements with techniques learned day to day from web research and nature to bring them through the transition.  At least they are laying eggs in the moistened sand bed provided.

Christmas Past

The cold snow came suddenly, plunging the bait shop into the teen degrees yet the heat lamp buffers the chill and the worms are well.  
This morning, for moisture, I added a few gallons of snow to one side of the bin. Tomorrow I will sprinkle layer pellets across the soil surface for a protein boost.

After the Snow 2013

With the heat lamp running continuously 18" above the bin through the nights of below freezing temps, the soil has dried a time or two due to neglect but regardless the wigglers still thrive as the grass grows atop the soil.
From cold water collected from the barn-top snow melt, I moistened the straw-woven dirt today and added more veggie scraps to the surface where it is written that these worms feed most.
As they continue to grow larger and in numbers I toil with the market and farm in an attempt to add my part to the spiraling madness of life.

Life after Death

With the cold temps, constant heat lamp, and insufficient moisture management I placed the worms into a large plastic container with air holes in the lid and then moved the bin into our bedroom.  
What a mistake.  The gases released from the composting matter were moving out faster than the air could move in.  Realizing this almost too late I found a few alive and they are now outdoors once again in an attempt to repopulate.  Wish us luck...

Back to the Tub

The few worms saved from the gassed container were taken back to the bait shop and placed into their initial home with there neglected mates (that I found still thriving).  
After turning the soil and adding fresh chicken feed to the top layer, I moistened the bedding with fresh rain water that I collect in buckets placed along the ground below the barns roof edge.
It has been a struggle to date to manage these wigglers but in the process my hopes rise to new aspirations.
Hopefully in a few years I will be a supplier of local bait shops and neighboring fisherman.

For Sale (Barter)

A gentleman and his wife (both elderly and nice people) stopped by on their way to Foushee Lake that is just about one and a half miles from this market to get a bucket of Red Wigglers and a few fat Night Crawlers.
They were delighted of the quality and bait-shop experience and tried to give me money.  Instead I opted for a couple of bins of aged-cow manure that they promised to bring soon.
After washing our hands, I wished them success and off they happily went to the lake.

PS: I started a new worm tub today.  This one loaded with rabbit pellets collected from beneath the hutches. I am adding native worms to this one.
As always wish us luck and good day to you all as well.

Sale # 2

$3.00 for a healthy handful to a young man and his well-mannered two year old daughter.  On their way to the newly opened and nearby Foushee Lake, they stopped in by reference from the gentleman mentioned above who at some point will be bringing the horse manure.
With this season's second snow/ice storm upon the market today, the worms are thriving though moving slow.  
Of the four bins now populated, only one has a heat lamp over it.  
Heading down to the bait house in a few to layer the bin surfaces with a bit of chicken feed.

Method Change

Dale Miller (a former bait shop owner) stopped by the market last weekend.  He advised that I use organic peat moss for bedding and cornmeal for feed.
I have such a bed set up now and have placed several handfuls of worms from my other beds into this system.  The worms seem more vigorous there.
I will continue to manage each bed as Spring-time temps increase to determine which is the best method to use.  

The Peat Experience

Thus far I have learned that the worms enjoy the peat and that it is difficult to keep moist.  So to follow through on Mr. Millers' advice, I will soon layer the top with a sheet of cardboard and see how that performs.
By the way, I made another sale yesterday (a wholesome handful for $2 bucks).
Now that spring has arrived and the worms survived the winter with little assistance, I have high hopes of producing a great yield this warm season.  'Sure would be nice to become a supplier of bait shops and still have the pleasure of working with drop-in fishermen as well.
'Seems that the ladies are more interested in my worm dirt than the worms.  And I can understand why: using some my self on the plants in my window garden I immediately witnessed the plants react (a cactus I collected from the local rock quarry has nearly doubled in size in just two weeks.  As for the worm juice that I collect after the water drains through the warm bedding, well the plants love that as well.
Now the sun is rising and it is April 15th, so I better get to tending the big veggie garden we are putting in that is surrounded by a 70" tall electric fence that has to be accessed through the bait shop (gonna be plenty of green clippings for our wigglers).

Spring Wigglers

With winter past and the temps on the rise, the red worms are lively and have multiplied.
Not one, but four tubs of worms now thrive;
all cozy and eating, and wiggling inside:
the bait barn.  I need a sign
out by the highway to advertise, "Red worms for sale, please stop by."

Summer Bounty

Here it is mid-June and the Reds are still wiggling.  I have not spent a great deal of time managing them other than keeping them moist and feeding them veggie scraps plus corn meal from time to time.
I have not advertised worms-for-sale much but have sold a few by word of mouth.
The best reward to date from my efforts is the excellent soil produced from the worm castings.  I have harvested a few pounds of it for personal use and have also had others request a few gallons of the vermi-tea collected from a drain beneath my largest bin (the bath tub).
Has it been easy keeping my stock alive from the initial 2000 that I started with some fifteen months ago?  Yes, it has been far less of a chore than what I read into, as I have not had to place a lid on any of the bins in over a year.  Bedding, food, and temperature is the key; with temperature being the least concern.
Adjacent the bait shop is now a hardy garden from which all the composting-bedding needed is collected as depicted in the embedded picture below.  The door to the bait shop can be seen open at the end of the barn.
I do hope to start raising minnows soon but not until I can finance the endeavor from the RV park revenue generated whenever I can afford to start that part of Blue Fly Market.

Fishing With Reds

Went fishing at Lake Charles yesterday and used Reds for the first time.  Of the three of us fishing I caught the most by far: Eleven to five and four.  I used Red Worms and the other two fishermen used crickets and Catalpa worms.

Worms Galore (Bin #1)

With little care the Reds thrive.  Soon I will begin sorting, separating, collecting castings, and hopefully selling on a regular basis.

Bait Boxes

Having recently ordered fifty plastic perforated bait cups that were delivered yesterday, I filled one with twenty five worms, dated it, and placed it in our refrigerator to test how long they will keep.  I am hoping for at least a two-week survival rate and if so I will place several in that order on standby for sales at $1.00 per cup of 25.  In the mean time I will ready a roadside sign.  Wish me luck...

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Hand at Chickens

Doctor Call

Before light this day, “Doc,” a local vet employed by the government to oversee poultry health at the nearby chicken plant (Pilgrims' Pride) delivered a cage of roosters.
After sitting the birds beneath the white oak and building a fire in the store's old wood stove I went into the layers' coop to feed and tend to our flock of Rhode Island Reds that have recently began to lay and will continue to do so through the winter and through the next season, at the end of which I will replace them with a new flock from the incubator we bought at the the feed store a few years back.

We sale eggs from here at times; eat and give away a few as well. But this year I intend to expand to online sales via our website by offering fertile eggs to those interested in a flock of their own.
I also have a spreadsheet that I created to manage egg sales. It is a benefit to use and may be accessed here.
So much to do today at the market but will periodically edit this post to share our growing knowledge of homesteading.
Thanks for sharing your precious time with us.

Bird Sales

Last Friday a gentleman and his wife stopped in to ask if we had chickens for sale.  We did and arranged for his pickup of five Rhode Island Red hens today.  I caught and penned them last night (easier to do when they are roosting) and we loaded them into boxes on his truck an hour ago.  
The rest of this flock I am keeping as a reproduction flock so that I can start anew in the spring.
If ever you want to get into a new and rewarding hobby then you may want to try your hand at chicken farming.  They are a delight and benefit to have around.

Stressed from the Mess

Foolish me beginning too many things to manage.  
Now having back orders of chick sales, a down-sized flock due to adult sales, a small incubator, low-mating activity, and slow egg production due to an erratic winter climate, I am now at wits with keeping the schedules.
I will manage as promised and determined even without the finance to simplify the problem.  So please cross your fingers with me as I work this out into a sunny solution.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Wagon Load of Antiques

Having informed our facebook community that a new load of old goodies would be arriving at The Fly today, I now await transportation.
It is early yet, the roosters and parakeets (Leo and Lea) are singing to the morning, and I am coffeed up and ready to go.
We will be going to our warehouse to select items for the fall season.  We plan to be back here at the market this afternoon with a large truck and wagon load of unique and interesting items to offer our community at the lowest possible prices bearable.
If you are interested in a photo update of today's haul then please visit our site or facebook page this evening or later as we will have an album dedicated to this event there.


We've arrived back at the market with the wagon load of oldies.  Now to unload, sort, and shelve the items.  We will be uploading images to our facebook page shortly and placing a link to the album here.  But first a short breather and a cup of coffee...

The Day's End

Sundown now, the wagon is unloaded.  Here is a link to the photo album of some of today's haul.
Tomorrow we have much arranging to do.  Wish us good luck friends.

The Day After

So the rain came with dawn and after putting the kids on the bus I began my day with a wiring plan.  I brought enough outlets, switches, and wire to transfer the store #1's lighting arrangement from extension cords to wall sockets.  I hope to finish this by today's end and maybe start a wiring plan for store #3 (store #2 is complete).  
No need for a radio while I am working because the rain dancing on the store's tin roof plays the perfect melody.  
Off I go again...

85% Complete

Got it done, mostly.  The wires, boxes, sockets, and switches are installed and I can now start unraveling the snaking extension cords.  How nice it is to hit a switch verses plugging and unplugging cords.
Just a few minor details to go such as dividing lighting sections into parallel loops so I can regulate power usage more economically and maybe adding some permanent light fixtures to accent the lamps.  
 But not today.  Today, or for the rest of it, may be spent collecting acorns to give away or to sale on ebay as deer feed  (as I did that last year); sorting the rest of yesterday's inventory to make the store more accessible and gathering the wiring materials for store #3 which is currently on an extension cord from store #2.
 But for now and until later, thank you for reading because without your time I would just be typing into the cyber void.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hiking the Foushee Cave WMA

The customers that just visited were here to inquire of the new 3000 acre Foushee Island Cave Natural Area that adjoins this market.
They asked of the cave's access point and whether geocaching (http://www.geocaching.com) was allowed.  I showed them our boundary maps, and gave them access directions.
I also advised of our interest in establishing a trail head here from which caching parties could venture forth on their treasure hunts into the beautiful and rugged Ozark park.
They agreed to visit again soon, to send like minded parties, and to assist in this rewarding endeavor.
I also showed the photos of a new cave system I recently discovered here and agreed to take them there soon.
For photos of this cave (Crystal Cave) please click here.
Last week I received a call from a prospecting vendor asking our rates.  He said that he lived within three miles of the Fly, that he hadn't a vehicle, and that he would be to see us soon.
Today his dad Barry stopped by and introduced himself.  As he looked at the vintage fly reels and rods on display we chatted about fishing and eventually discovered our mutual interest in hiking, topography maps, compasses, and GPS devices.
The gentlemen that accompanied Barry is from Illinois and added that he to enjoyed the hobby, saying that he even once had the privilege of officially naming a few landmarks for his native state.  He travels to  Arkansas regularly to mow and upkeep his Church's camp grounds.
This is where the idea of our trail system came in.  The campground is a rural 25 acres and adjacent the Foushee WMA as our ten-acre homestead is.  As the crow flies it is about a mile walk southeast of here and 1000 feet up.
Barry is a little new to digital maps so I will be assisting him online (I gave him a business card so he can find our page to communicate through initially).  The groundsman also informed of the bluff system lining the camp and  that it offers a great vista point of the valley below (this valley).
Now it is time to do a little mapping research online to see how the primary points may connect.  Our vision is a shared digital map accessible to all of interest on which images will be embedded and way points added with Blue Fly as the trail head.
Until the envisioned map is created I will add links to webmaps that I am tinkering with as the dream unfolds.
Thanks again for sharing your time with us.  More to come soon...

'Got the Topo

The mailman came to the front door with the 24"x30" topogragphy map in hand that I had ordered two weeks earlier.  It arrived late but I am glad to have it.  
Some fifteen years ago I learned of these map types while visiting random offices at the US Post Office in Batesville, AR.  Back then they were $5.00 each.  They are now $9.00.  This I learned when visiting there last month to get one for this area shortly after Foushee WMA was opened to the public.  Fortunately they were sold out and the handler was nice enough to give me the web address where they order from.  I found mine for $6.95 base price, but after having it laminated and tubed it cost $12.80.
I intend to scan the relevant section of it, upload it to my new website via FTP (if I can) and offer it as a free download.  I will link the choice here if successful.
In the meantime here is a webmap that I am working on of the area.  You shouldn't need any extra software to view it (I had to install Silverlight to use the mapping program) but if a problem arises then please contact me and let me know of an issue.  Also be mindful that the way points depicted are just guesstimates.  We will edit it for accuracy once hiking season arrives and I get my first handheld (Garmin eTrex Legend HCx as recommended by Toby that placed the WMA boundary signs).
Also know that the WMA boundary line is a draft as we are still waiting the release of the digital shapefile.
The shape file has finally been released and is now attached to the above "webmap" link.  \
Overseeing this natural area is the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.  They have a great introductory page here: Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.

Primitive Campground now open

Crystal Cave Tour

Saturday (2/2/13) customers from the market inquired of the Foushee WMA and its caves locations.  I advised that on Sundays I give free tours.  
The newlyweds arrived Sunday morning as promised and I led them to our nearby Crystal Cave.  It was the gentleman' wife's first cave exploration and they had an excellent adventure.
As always it is a pleasure to help others enjoy the great outdoors.  So anyone, anytime, stop by the Fly and we'll show you around.

Recent Hikes

Setting coordinates from the topo map we have been following bearings within the 240 deg. range and have discovered some very nice vista points from which we can see miles beyond our valley floor.
Consecutively for the previous three days we have been venturing four mile scouts on a round-about from and to the Fly.
Many deer and turkey here.  Also fish are abundant in the nearby Foushee Lake to which we took the kids last weekend.  For information and assistance concerning this natural area please stop in and inquire or send me an email at perrycalaway@gmail.com.
Until later I am booting up for a sunrise trail run into the rugged outback to enjoy the pleasures of God's great work.
More later.  Please subscribe for updates.

Miles In The Morning

Over the last few weeks I have risen early and after sending the kids off to school, hiked south up Clark's Hollow to a height of approximate 900 feet (nice vista points all around, plenty of wild life and beautiful natural scenery).
Perhaps you can enjoy this area some day and if ever are inclined to do so will stop in or message me for helpful information.

  Snow, A Mountain, Me and My two Daughters (ages Seven and Ten).

"Wanna take a hike kids?" I asked.  "Yeah, yep, and let's go", they replied.
So from our homestead we headed up hill on a bearing of 165 degrees.  Our destination: a half-acre pond approximately 900 feet above our valley's floor.
Due to the lack of shadows, fog, and a dense forest, I had to set way-points about every fifty feet to maintain our bearing.
The kids had a tough time climbing the mountain but we eventually reached our destination though took no time to enjoy the landmark as the girls were begging to head home.  So I reversed the compass setting and followed it  pinpoint to our property line.
"Wanna go again someday?" I asked.  "Yep, they replied, "but not when it is snowing and cold."

A Trip to the Post Office

Upon returning just now from the local post office which is a little over two miles from this market, I am reminded of an adventure to there two summers past.
Having just sold my first antique on ebay I needed to ship it that business day as promised but had no transportation other than my daughter Katrina's small bicycle.  The package was large and cumbersome (a vintage tube tester), so I placed it in a back pack and peddled along scenic and hilly highway 14. 
The item was promptly shipped, I became friends with the very nice postmaster, and on the return trip (which is mostly up hill) I stopped at the corner store which is across highway 25 from the Batesville Speedway (where Mark Martin raced prior to his NASCAR career).
At the store I befriended the new owner and learned of how she arrived from Africa to America.  From me she learned of the fresh, home grown, Rhode Island Red chicken eggs that I raise here at the market and agreed to purchase a weekly quantity from me for use in her two-table cafe.
Time has passed since then but has left the experience of how to ship at low rates in the interest of the customer and a fine knowledge of printing shipping labels online, scheduling pick ups, and good packaging techniques. 
So if you have questions or interest related to this topic then please comment, email me, or communicate by whatever means that we have mutual.
Thanks for reading and if you are ever not too terribly busy then please visit us on facebook, or our site, or g+ page.

Glad to meet you!

Greetings and welcome to Blue Fly Market! You are now straddling time as our place is a home-based, small business nested in a rural valley of the Arkansas Ozark Highlands where history and the future compete for their turn at the hour-glass. Today and over the days to come we will be reaching out to our community of like-minded homesteaders, antique/vintage-ware aficionados, computer/Internet illiterates, and outdoor enthusiast to assist, commune, and transact with. We were founded in the fall of 2011 as a roadside sign and an outdoor table on a grassy hill adjacent to tourist and scenic route 14 in the very-small town of Locust Grove, AR. Since that day we have built a rustic building from the surrounding forest by use of a portable sawmill in which we now have an array of antiques and what-is-this? items, plus a growing database of natural goods unique to this environment. We are young, new, inspired, and willing to assist our community in accessing our market by means that are secure, convenient, and rewarding to all of us. Contact us anytime by any and all means. We will respond. We will enjoy your company. And Thank You for reading...

Entrance to The Fly