Su Ba

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since Apr 18, 2013
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Retired from veterinary medicine. My second career is creating a homestead, aiming to be self reliant.
Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Recent posts by Su Ba

Chris, this is going to sound weird.........
While working in veterinary medicine, I occasionally saw a pup that was non-responsive to treatment. We would end up keeping the dog on antibiotics for months, perhaps years, with a medical diet and regimen. The slightest thing set these patients into long bouts of liquid diarrhea and their overall health would decline even more.

I sometimes had good results with these type dogs by resorting to a trick that an old-timey veterinarian showed me when I was just a teenager working for him. He would feed the dog a mix of....
..a cup of raw meat (you can't use supermarket meat nowadays since its most likely contaminated. You'd have to use your own home reared meat or get it from a safe source. There are safe raw meat products available in high end pet stores, like Petco. It's frozen.)
...about 2 to 3 tablespoons of dirt taken from a doghouse or kennel where a healthy, parasite-free dog lives
...about a tablespoonful of fresh poop from that healthy dog.
Mix it all together and feed to the sick dog. Sometimes just one treatment did the trick, but usually it had to be fed daily for about two weeks.

Ive seen this work in young puppies and bring a lifelong cure. The older the pup or dog, the longer it takes to effect. Just as with people, fecal transplanting in older dogs often needs to be repeated twice a year or so.

Don't know if your sister would be willing to try this old time remedy, but it surely wouldn't hurt.
8 hours ago
Aloha David!

First, a small correction. Although people call it a banana tree, it's not truly a tree. Just so you're aware of that. So expect the "tree" to die once it produces a bunch of bananas. But don't worry, it should have already sent up a replacement sucker before it dies back.

Here in Hawaii, the bananas grown for eating don't produce seeds. Thus we propagate them from suckers. There are plenty of banana varieties that do produce seeds, but because the seed dominates the fruit, they are only grown as ornamentals. Occasionally I've heard of someone finding a seed in their edible banana, but I haven't found one in my own bananas on my farm. I've got hundreds of banana trees growing here.

How long will it take before your banana flowers? I really don't know because I've never grown one from seed. When I transplant a partially grown sucker, it takes around 12 months. A lot depends upon the amount of water and nutrients the tree gets, what the air and ground temperature is, and the humidity. When conditions aren't ideal, I've seen trees sit there for a few years before flowering. Once it flowers, it takes my trees 3-4 months before I can harvest the bunch.
2 days ago
Aloha Joe. Sorry about your loss. It's a bummer. But it could have been worse, you could have already built your cabin. That doesn't help mitigate the tragedy, I know, but there's not much else to be said about it.

I'm over in Ka'u by Naalehu, so I'm safe from the lava (at least until Mauna Loa erupts). But I have been dealing with ash in my livestock pastures, vog (which has lessened since Halema'uma'u drained), and acid rain. Not nearly as bad as your situation though. We've seen a number of Puna refuges come to Ka'u looking to rent or buy homes. I talked story with one nice women who was looking for a few acres in order to restart a homestead. As you know land is pretty pricy but I heard that one of the locals here is thinking of selling her 8 acres at a very fair price, well below what the real estate agents are pushing.

I watch and read the daily updates about the eruption. It's impossible not to. I watch with a mixture of horror & grief, and awe & excitement. As much as I am dismayed at the loss of homes and properties, I am fascinated by the lava fountains, the lava river, the entire eruption.

I hope you'll be able to find a spot to restart your dream, though Kapoho was special and will be hard to replicate. Or better yet....with luck the eruption will stop in the next few weeks, then after a couple months you'll be able to return to your land. Your adventure then will a real testament to permaculture as you bring your kipuka land back to health and production. If you do get back to your land, it would be one great and inspiring story to tell!!!
1 week ago
Jason, I haven't visited that website, but your endorsement sounds all too like the cover of the old J C Whitney automotive 20% on your fuel by using this item, save 15% by using this other item, etc. If you used them all, you wouldn't have to use much gasoline at all it seems. Ha, ha, ha.  My brother was an auto mechanic and saw plenty of engine damage caused by those J C Whitney gadgets. Yes, the owners saved a few bucks on fuel (not as much as claimed), but lost big bucks on engine repairs. When we were young, my hubby bought one such item and a few fuel additives out of that catalog. They never did much, and if I recall right, the engine was short lived afterward.
1 week ago
That's a great way to use one's homegrown veggies and herbs, especially when one's garden is small. When I only have a little of this or that, I've been known to mix them in with something abundant (whether I grew it myself or it came from off the farm, makes no difference), such as mashed potatoes, farmers cheese, mashed beans, scrambled or hard boiled eggs, rice, pasta. That way we get to enjoy the tidbits that are not enough to make a meal out of by themselves.  We've discovered some combos that we have come to really like and purposely make now.
1 week ago
I didn't realize until I read your post that I haven't looked at any of my cookbooks for over ten years. Ten!!! Wow. And it's been those ten years that we've been pretty much eating off of what our farm produces or what we can get locally via trading, foraging, etc. I just didn't give it much thought, but I too have developed a food style that has little to do with the numerous cookbooks I have. We've come to like that various seasonal combos I whip up. We're comfortable with the fresh herbs now. Looking back on it, I don't think we would have eaten this stuff 15 years ago. I was more in the mindset of cookbook meals -- Italian, French, Greek, Southern, whatever.

My Ww oofer is even more "eating off the farm" than I am, making stir fry combinations out of what is on hand that day. He's not into preservation, so eats everything fresh-picked or acquired. He has developed his own style, along with his own recipes and preferences. He probably could write his own cookbook by now.
1 week ago
Worrying about current climate and climate change may not be the most important factor when thinking about homesteading 80 years from now. If you factor in the out of control population growth, along with its accompanying cascading need for more food and resources, I wonder......something to think about. Plus, with the escalating effects of population growth and its affects on climate change, what will climates be like 80 years from now?

The economists I've read tend to predict the urban and suburban areas dramatically increasing due to the simple fact that all those extra people have to live and work somewhere and the rural areas don't offer the jobs anymore. Thus rural areas may offer the best option for homesteading activity.

That being said, I'd be looking at remote mountain areas where "modern" people tend to avoid due to the fact that "modern" resources are scarce and more difficult to get to those areas. Forested mountains indicate a water source somewhere, somehow. Homesteaders tend to utilize local, natural resources rather than buying everything at the store. Forested mountain areas might sustain homesteaders best, and if they are within a few hours transportation to an urban area, then even better. An hour from a suburban area might be better yet since the homesteader could sell their excess or goods to the mainstream population living there.

I'm homesteading on an island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. My area is a poor rural district that offers very little of interest to the wealthy. Wealthy people drive through.....don't buy houses here. Thus this is a good area for homesteading. Remote enough to keep the housing boom away, but a steady stream of buyers for excess farm products. Wealthy residents a 1 1/2 hour drive away. Adequate rainfall due to the mountain behind our farm. Moderate climate, even if it gets a tad warmer. Yup, I landed in a good spot. And while this area may increase in population over the next 80 years, I don't foresee extensive development. There are other locations on this island that are far more appealing to the wealthy. I don't intend to move, but if I did, I'd try to replicate my situation ---- semi remote & rural, mild climate, a mountain to give rain, wealthy population an hour or two away.
1 week ago
I recall as a young child watching my uncle make replacement gaskets and flapper for the hand water pumps out of leather. I also remember him making gaskets for some other thing (don't recall what he was working on) out of cork sheeting. Interesting.
3 weeks ago
It's so nice to hear from you again, Maureen! I was always interested in the things we're doing on your farm.
3 weeks ago
Like Jay, I've had good results growing lettuce in a non-circulating system. I started out using gallon plastic milk jugs that I had spray painted to keep out the light. Then I eventually switched to gallon glass old wine jugs. I made slip on covers for the jugs out of old denim pants that effectively keep the light out. I've grown lettuce for home use this way for about ten years.

Another way that I'm growing with non-circulating hydroponics is by using a medium to support the roots. In my case, I'm using tumbled grass chunks (pieces are 1/4" to 1/2" diameter) that I got cheap from our recycling center. I can clean them between crops, so I'll be able to use them for the rest of my lifetime. Right now I'm using large (2 liter) wine bottles that I cut the tops off of. Then I fill them with the tumbled glass and plant the seedlings into that, then add hydroponic solution. So far I've been growing mini bokchoy and assorted Chinese greens, with great success. I'm planning on trying other crops.

The reason I'm using hydroponics is that we have a nasty parasite in Hawaii called rat-lung disease. My hydroponic set up is protected against slugs, the vector for this parasite. So with the hydroponics I feel safe eating raw veggies that I produce.
3 weeks ago