Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gratitude Journal

1. Neil Degrasse Tyson's very entertaining and informative "Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries".

2. Jeremy surprising me with his presence at the event I was photographing this evening.

3. That delicious muffin I ate.

4. The weather was beautiful today. I love driving with the windows down.

5. Coming home to my pups.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Creating Our Front Yard

A couple of months ago my husband and I cleared and tilled the soil in an area in the front of our home. It was full of dead plants, and was far from having been tended to. We found various bricks and stones throughout the soil (we used these today to create a stepping stone path in the garden). Today we planted various seeds, bulbs, and blooming flowers.

We live in north Texas. The average annual minimum temperature is 20 degrees to 10 degrees.

Sans good soil and flowers:

What we used:
Organic cypress Mulch
Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Garden Soil from Home Depot

Blooming flowers planted:
Golden Scotch Moss (perennial)- Needs 4-6 hours of sun (part sun). Water weekly during dry spells, and should be pinched* for full growth. These should be 2 inches tall by 12 inches wide at mature size.

Marigolds (annual)- Needs 6 hours or more of sun. Water daily. Requires a well-drained amended soil. These should be 10 to twelve inches in height at mature size. Remove spent flowers using scissors or hand pruners, snip off flower stems just above a leaf or bud when they finish blooming to promote more blossoming . Pick off damaged leaves.

Seeds planted:
Solar Eclipse Sunflowers and Chianti Hybrid Sunflowers were planted in the back of the garden since they will grow to be the tallest of the flower family. Natural rainfall should suffice for watering; however, if it does not rain regularly, hand watering is necessary. These will grow to be four to five feet tall. I love sunflowers! We planted some last year too.

Bulbs planted:
Anemones (St. Brigid mix)- Require full sun (6 hours or more) and will grow to be 12 inches in height. Tender bulbs need to be dug up in the fall and then replanted the next spring. Hardy bulbs may be left in the ground to grow the next summer. Anemone bulbs need loose, well-drained soil. After the blooms have faded, do not remove the leaves until they turn yellow and begin to die back. The leaves continue to produce energy that the bulb stores.

Tigridia (mixed)- Require full sun (6 hours or more) and will grow to be 18 to 24 inches tall. Keep the soil drier than you would with any other bulb as the Tigridia bulb rots quickly in wet soil, or in areas with humid summers where the soil is apt to stay wetter than in areas with drier air. Harvest and store the Tigridia bulbs in peat or vermiculite during the winter in a cool, dry place to prevent damage to the bulb.

What we did:
• Cleared the soil, and derooted old plants.
• Applied organic, nutrient-rich soil to our current terrible soil and mixed it together.
• Applied a small amount of mulch in the holes, and then placed the bulbs on top of the mulch. Then covered them up with soil. Mulched around the flowers and watered the soil.
• Planted seeds into holes (refer to your seed packet for instructions on hole depth and spacing). Watered the soil.
• Ate pizza with Jeremy and Rebecca.

I was instructed and inspired by the book "You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening" by Gayla Trail. If you want to create a garden, read this book. I borrowed my copy from the library.

* How to Pinch Back Flowers

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Learning about Pigs

My husband and I have a goal to live on a farm and provide a sanctuary for animals in the future. I look forward to this nearly every day. I have much to learn, and I am starting with pigs.

Pig Physiology:
The average life span for a pig is approximately 6 to 10 years.

Mature female pigs (sows) and mature male pigs (boars if un-castrated, barrow if castrated) generally weigh between 600 to 900 pounds, but can get up to 1,000 pounds or more.
The normal body temperature for pigs ranges from 101.6° F to 103.6° F. Pigs do not sweat and can suffer greatly in extreme heat.

Nutritional Needs:
Water - Clean, fresh water must always be available to your pigs. recommends the use of a special automated pig waterer, available in some farm supply stores and catalogs. Automatic waterers cut down on water waste and broken water containers.

Feed - Pig feed can be purchased at most feed stores. However, it is highly recommend that you mix your own, as pre-mixed pig feed is generally made with antibiotics, growth hormones and animal by-products, and is designed to promote fast growth.

Pigs love to graze, and get a lot of what they need nutritionally from grass, roots and other plants. They do, however, tend to tear up pasture quickly, and can be supplemented with alfalfa or grass hay.

Do not feed corncobs, whole potatoes or other large, hard foods that can cause a pig to choke.

Feeders - Pigs have a tendency to flip over rubber or plastic bowls and use them as toys more often then feed holders. Farm Sanctuary recommends the use of metal troughs, with multiple openings depending on the number of pigs. Always have an adequate number of feeders available, so there is room for all of your pigs to eat at the same time.

Shelter Requirements: recommends one acre of land for every two pigs. For warm weather, the fenced area must have plenty of shade. Pigs love water, so we recommend a pond, and because they cannot sweat, a mud hole is necessary, especially in hotter climates. Mud also provides sunscreen, especially for Yorkshire pigs, who are white-skinned. Ponds or mud holes should have fresh water that can be flushed out, as stagnant water will lead to potential health problems.

Building - A large garage, shed or barn (a minimum of 16' x 16') makes a fine shelter for pigs. Concrete floors should be covered with five to six inches of dirt, as concrete is very hard on hooves and joints, and can lead to permanent injuries. Always provide your pigs with plenty of clean, dry straw for bedding. Remove damp and soiled straw daily, replacing it with fresh straw. Spreading lime thinly over wet areas will help keep your shelter dry — be sure to use hydrate lime, not feed lime. Your shelter should be waterproof and well ventilated, especially in warm weather.

For cold weather, it is important to keep your pigs warm. If it is difficult to keep the shelter temperature above 35° F, provide extra bedding straw (pigs love to burrow) and brooder lamps. Always secure brooder lamps and cords out of pigs' reach, since the heat from them can cause a fire. Also, keep them clean, since dust can be combustible. Farm Sanctuary recommends the use of ceramic heat elements, since they are safer than heat lamps, which have glass bulbs that are easily breakable.

The ideal fencing to use for pigs is four-foot high.

Pigs require multiple areas, so they can be rotated off pastures during wet seasons or if they over-graze an area. Pigs will root up land, causing water to pool during rainy weather, creating mud. Beyond the occasional roll to cool off during warm weather, these conditions create an inhospitable place for pigs to linger. They need to have a few fenced in areas, so they can be moved to the next area until the first dries, or is even-graded as necessary.

Farm animals are flock or herd animals and they must always have a suitable companion. This is a very important welfare consideration, whether you are caring for pigs or chickens.

Health Care:
Maintenance - Every five to six weeks, pigs should get a routine, individual health check and have some basic health care procedures done. These include: Tusk trimming; ear cleaning; hoof trimming; whole body checks for abrasions, abscesses or warty growths; and eye checks for ulcers or discharge.

Symptoms indicating a sick pig include: Poor appetite; weakness or staggering; lethargy; labored breathing; or abnormal temperature. Consult your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

Hoof Trimming - Your pigs need their hooves trimmed, particularly older pigs who are less mobile. A good hoof trimmer for pigs is a horse hoof nipper. Have your veterinarian or a professional show you how to perform this procedure.
Tusk Trimming - Male pigs need to have their bottom tusks trimmed every two to three months. This is important, as tusks can cause severe injury to others during play and normal, daily activities. Use specialized wire tusk trimmers, also called giggly wire, surgical wire or saw wire.

Internal Parasites - Though good sanitation will greatly reduce worm problems, you should still have your pigs checked regularly for worms. Have a stool sample checked by your veterinarian every three months, and then treat your pigs accordingly. Isolate any incoming pigs until a fecal exam can be done and any parasites are treated.

Spaying/Neutering - Unless you plan on keeping males and females separate, neutering is required for goats, sheep, rabbits, cattle, and pigs. Pigs tend to have future reproductive diseases later in life if left unaltered. Female pigs also go into heat every 28-30 days and often display mounting behaviors, which can cause permanent injuries to other pigs they are housed with. It is best to do the procedure when they are piglets since it is a much higher risk when they are older due to their tolerance of anesthesia. Insist that your veterinarian use a local anesthesia.

Read about pig care here.
Learn more about establishing a sanctuary at Farm Animal Shelters

Visit a Sanctuary in Texas:


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gratitude Journal

1. Taco Trinity from The Cosmic Cafe with many awesome people.

2. I finished "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin (a dystopia full of interesting mathematical analogies).

3. "Edenborn" by Nick Sagan came in the mail today!

4. The very sweet cat who stared at my profile with a strange, bewildered, wild-eyed look, as I peered at him from behind a column in his home.

5. Spending the evening laughing

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gratitude Journal

Once I got out of my amazingly comfortable bed, I had so much energy for our bridal shoot at The Cotton Mill in McKinney today. The rain has been visiting all day, and I wish for more and more...

Today I am grateful for:

1. Photo-shoot

2. Laughing with Falkowski, who introduced us to the ridiculous "Jersey Town".

3. Meeting another nice photographer today at The Cotton Mill.

4. Ice cream with cake.

5. Vegetarian tacos at Cafe Brazil with my life partner.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gratitude Journal (take one)

Inspiration to create this "Gratitude Journal" came from the following video:

Today I am Thankful for:
1. The adorable family my husband and I got to photograph today
(3 kids! + engagement)


Resisting the Urge to Smush a Spider with Hugh Raffles
Anthropology Professor, The New School, New York City

What will Eat You?
with Joel Cohen
Mathematical Biologist, Rockefeller University

3. Sharing my favorite sandwich with my
favorite person at "The All Good Cafe"

4. Rain (on my skin, in the air, and the soft falling sound outside my window )

5. Talking about Disney World with people (I want to go for Halloween!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Music: Andrew Bird +

Andrew Bird: Masterfade
(one of my favorite Andrew Bird songs!)

Camera Obscura: I Love How You Love Me

Camera Obscura: Books Written for Girls

The Dodos: Ashley

Sufjan Stevens: Saul Below

Andrew Bird: Don't be Scared

Belle and Sebastian: The Chalet Lines

The Reindeer Section: Grand Parade

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson

“The simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression… . In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little human detail can become a leitmotif.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson

"To photograph is to hold one's breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It's at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy".
- Henri Cartier-Bresson

"Think about the photo before and after, never during. The secret is to take your time. You mustn't go too fast. The subject must forget about you. Then, however, you must be very quick. So, if you miss the picture, you've missed it. So what?" -Henri Cartier-Bresson

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Music: Mike Snow +

Miike Snow: Animal

Miike Snow: Sans Soleil

Miike Snow: Black and Blue

Miike Snow: Silvia

Devotchka: You Already Know

Phoenix: Long Distance Call

Miike Snow: Animal (Punks Jump Up Remix)