Steve Mendez

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since Aug 15, 2013
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Recent posts by Steve Mendez

I let the odd shaped large tomato flower develop into a fruit.  It turns out the flower was on a branch of  a Beefsteak tomato plant that had grown through to the other side of an Early Girl plant.  Tasty, meaty, very little juice.
2 months ago
I got my first paycheck job at age 12 delivering newspapers and worked at many things until landing a great job teaching college at age 38. I retired at age 64 when I reached the Rule of 90 ( full pension when years of service and age equal 90).  
Income from my pension, from the Bullfrog farm, and from paid off residential rental properties provided plenty to enable me to delay taking Social Security until I turned age 70 two months ago. SS increases by 8% each year that you delay taking it until age 70.
I now have residual income from the pension, the rentals, SS, and soon the Bullfrog farm from which I am transitioning into a consulting role. In less than two years I will be required to start taking money from my tax deferred savings plans, which will increase the residual income even more.
I guess I did it the long slow way, and that "God laughs when men make plans", nevertheless, we all age out, so we have to do what we can in the meantime.
This is basically anecdotal evidence.
On May 15th we planted four Ichiban eggplants at the farm from a pony pak purchased at our local hardware store.
Two plants were planted in the light sandy loam with no amendments and two were planted in the same soil but with a couple shovels full of composted froguano dug into the soil first.
These photos taken August 2nd show a striking difference in the size and vigor of the plants. The larger plants have produced three good sized fruits but the smaller plants have yet to yield any fruit.
Both sets of plants have been given about the same amount of water.
3 months ago
We don't add sawdust. I think the tadpoo coming from herbivores has plenty of carbon in it. The froguano coming from carnivores is the nitrogen source.  A couple of winters ago the center of the pile in the plastic composting bin was showing temps of 126 f (52 c).

We dug the compost into the garlic beds before planting our garlic project last fall. The garlic came up right away and grew all winter because the ground stays warm around the Bullfrog pens. The harvest has surpassed our expectations.
3 months ago
We collect the tadpoo and froguano from their respective quiescent zones separately. We then layer it into a wooden two bin composting set-up. As bin #1 dries and fills we churn it  with a shovel and move it into Bin #2. We have a purpose-built plastic composter that was purchased from the local farm store in which we compost morts larger than tadpoles and morphs. The morts are covered with a layer of compost from bin #2. We don't have morts every day but this gives us a convenient non smelly way to handle them when we do. The finished compost is collected from access doors at the bottom of the plastic bin. The finished compost is unique in that the bones from the composted morts are fairly evident.

Our small farm produces about three cubic meters of finished compost a year. It is given to friends and used on our own garden.

3 months ago
American Bullfrogs are poikilothermic, nearly every aspect of their life can be controlled with temperature and feed.

It was a five year struggle with dozens of failed attempts/experiments before my wife hit upon a solution to training Bullfrogs to eat pellets, followed by several more years of feed trials to get the pellets right for every life stage.

We strive to remove as much of our animals waste as possible from the natural aquatic environment. Our troughs and pens are all flow through systems with quiescent zones to settle the solids. We use 12 to 20 gallons per minute (gpm) or 45 to 76 liters per minute (lpm) at our farm depending on the time of year.
3 months ago
All of our Bullfrogs (larvae and adults) are raised in fiberglass troughs.

The breeding season is fairly short. We morph the larvae into froglets year-round in order to supply our customers  year-round with the size, age, and gender that they require.

Larvae and adults are fed pelleted diets that are produced for us by a local feed mill.

We sell nearly every Bullfrog we can produce for laboratory, medical, and teaching purposes. A small fraction (less than 1%) are provided to zoos, museums, nature centers, and enthusiasts. No need to sell them for human consumption for a lower price.
3 months ago
We visited the trees yesterday (7/24/21).

They looked good especially considering the very hot very dry summer.
4 months ago
Raising American Bullfrogs is actually raising two different animals at once.

Bullfrog larvae/tadpoles are fully aquatic. They are herbivorous/detritivores that will also opportunistically feed on dead animals. Their mouths are designed to scrape off bits and pieces of larger food items, they can also filter feed in "green water". Their diet has to be quite varied in order for them to maintain their health.  They are also fairly active in their constant search for food. These factors presented major problems early on in our attempts to turn Bullfrogs into farm animals.

Once the tadpoles have morphed into the adult form, everything changes. They become semi-aquatic, carnivorous, mostly sedentary, ambush feeders. With their oversized mouth they will lunge at and engulf anything that moves. When the "prey" continues to move in their mouth they will use their hands and their eyes in an attempt to stuff it down their gullet and swallow it. If the "prey" doesn't move in their mouth, the Bullfrog will spit it out and wipe it's tongue off with it's hands and refuse to eat that thing again. In addition to engulfing large prey, Bullfrogs also have a long sticky tongue that is attached at the lower front of the mouth. They can flick this tongue out at smaller things that move and whip them back into their mouth. If the small "prey" continues to move, it is swallowed using the eyes to push it down their throat. If there is no movement in the mouth the item is spit out and not eaten again. These behaviors also presented major problems in our attempts to turn Bullfrogs into farm animals.

Along with Bullfrogs being carnivores with very large mouths, they are also cannibalistic. A Bullfrog will attempt to engulf and swallow another Bullfrog that is up to 75%  of it's own weight. This can result in the eater being choked to death by the eaten. Very close attention must be paid to keeping the Bullfrogs sorted and segregated by size. "Shooters" can develop overnight. This means that a population of 50 gram average Bullfrogs can have some 70 gram Bullfrogs the next day. Care must be taken to remove them immediately. Tadpoles will also swarm and eat the skin off a morph that is unable to get away from them.
4 months ago
One of my friend's Tilapia broodstock  replacement ponds was nearly wiped out by one Mink. It got into the pond shortly after he fed the fish in late afternoon. It chased them around overnight and stressed them to the point of killing them.  Fish with full stomachs can't handle stress. You can see the Mink at the pond wall between the two stalks of Green Foxtail.  
4 months ago