Monthly Archives: June 2016

Own it, Fix it, Move on..

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As an IT professional, I can tell you that the more systems you work on, and the more power you are given over those systems, the more likely you will mess something up.   And I have also learned that the quicker you accept the fact you messed up, and concentrate on fixing the problem, the faster people forget about it, and the quicker you can let it go.

There was one time when a junior systems administrator (SysAdmin) did something that caused a group of people to lose some data that they had been working on for a while.  When the mistake was discovered, everyone kicked into fix-it mode.  We started looking into backups and other options to restore the data.  In the end, we found that we could not restore the data, that because of a simple mistake, lots of time and money was lost. While we were trying to find a solution, I looked over at the junior SysAdmin, and noticed what he was doing.  Instead of owning the problem, and trying to fix it, he was looking through the logs to see if he could shift the blame to someone else.  He knew what he had done and had not told anyone about it. The sad thing with this situation, is that if the SysAdmin would of owned it, and started fixing it in the beginning, the data would not of been lost.  But because he was trying to hide his mistake, a time threshold passed, and the data was no longer available for restore.

I once also had a similar situation happen to me, I did something similar to the above example.  Once I knew what I had done, I owned it, called my boss and explained to him what happened.  Then we worked on finding a solution.  The solution was to call Tech Support and see if they could fix what I had screwed up.  I called and explained to them what had happened, and I remember the tech support guy saying, “Yup, you should of not of done that.  Why would you…”  I interrupted his next sentence and said to him, “Yup, I know, but we can’t change that now.  What do we do to fix it?”  Lucky for me, about an hour later, we had rebuilt the array and no data was lost.  But, if I would of spent time trying to hide, or deflect what had really happened, then there would of been no way to restore the data.  The issue we were working on was only fixable because we were able to concentrate on fixing it before a time threshold was reached.

I learned the philosophy to Own it, Fix it, and Move on fairly early in my IT career.  But I have found it harder to apply to other aspects of my life.  It is an essential lesson and I think that society needs to learn and apply.  You can just ask Aimee, and she will tell you that this is something that I have not perfected, and still need to work on.  I have also found that by writing about something I need to work on, it helps solidify that concept in my mind.  That is the main purpose of this post, this  is to help solidify the Own it, Fix it, and Move on mentality in other areas other than in just my IT career.

First, I am sorry.  But life is not fair, and it was never intended to be fair.  Everyone has their problems that are unique to them.  That is one of the things that makes life so interesting.  Imagine a world where things really were equal and fair.  It will never happen, and why?  Because of human nature and our ability to choose. But the other side is also true.  Because life is not fair, there are people who can excel in areas, by their example and experiences, they can make society a better place.

I know at least two people that because of medical issues could throw up their hands and scream at life.  Life has given them some trials that would seem unfair.  They have had to fight some very significant health battles.  But they both have been an inspiration to me.  They both have their hard days, but instead of complaining about how hard life is for them, they have used their struggles to help pull people along, and to share their light.  I am not going to mention them by name, because I know that they would feel uncomfortable if I did.  But they are a perfect example of how life can be unfair, but you can take that, and turn it into a positive and make society better.

Second, people make mistakes, and do things they know they should not do.  You can be the best parent in the world, and your child will still push boundaries and do things that they know you have taught them not to do. Most of the inventions that have brought society forward, have been because someone has made a mistake.  They have learned from that mistake, and have tried to fix it.  And in the process of fixing it, they have help to make society a better place.

Third, taking responsibility is hard.  And a lot of times taking that responsibility or having others take responsibility for their actions does make you look the fool.  But you know what?  Everyone at some time looks the fool.  It is part of life not being fair, and people messing up.  The lesson to learn is how to shake it off when you do look the fool, because everyone at some point will, and then move on and make society better by the lesson you just learned.

I am a father of nine children.  And being such I have a unique prospective.  I can tell you that all nine of my children are completely different.  Sure, they have the same parents, but each of them have their own struggles (yes, they are not equal), they have made mistakes in different ways (yes, even after we have taught them not to do it.), and they have all tired to avoid responsibility.  And they have all done it at different times, about different things.

But one thing I have tried to teach them all, is that no one is responsible for your actions.  You are responsible for your actions.  Yes, life is not fair, get over it.  Yes, you will screw up, own it and take responsibility for your actions.

The news lately has made me so mad.  I am so tired of society always trying to assign blame to something besides the person who has done the wrong deed.  In my opinion, not taking responsibility for your actions,  is one of the worst things that we are teaching the future generation.  We are teaching them, that it is okay for them to identify as they wish, act as they want, and to blame it on something else.  Society is teaching them to avoid responsibility and to blame something else for the way they behaved.

Sorry, your actions are your actions.  They are not caused by your Race, Sex, Genetics, Childhood, etc.  Those things may influence who you are, but the should NEVER be the reason for bad behavior.  And yes, society is telling you that you are not responsible for your actions, it is because of how unfair the system is, etc.  Ultimately, you are the one that murdered, raped, bullied, or destroyed property breaking laws in the process.  No matter how much society will try to give you a way out, it was your actions that caused it.

I think that taking responsibility is a sign of maturity.  Anyone who has kids sees this evolution over time.  At first the child will try to avoid responsibility, lie and all costs to avoid responsibility and the negative impact that action may cause.  But over time, they see that responsibility is a powerful tool.  Responsibility has the ability to make one better, give confidence, and build up that person in the eyes of others.  I think our society has taken a step back in regards to maturity.  The previous generations knew what responsibility meant, and worked to gain it.  Society now, is like a two year old, that has not yet learned that responsibility is power, and they are still trying to not look the fool, or to get in trouble for their mistakes.  Society needs to mature, and put the blame where it should be placed.  It should be placed on the individual, and that individual needs to take responsibility for their actions, and stop allowing society to give them a scape goat.  I say it does take a village to raise a child, and that village is currently raising a bunch of narcissistic brats.  But it takes the individual to transform from child to adult.  It takes the individual to mature and own it, fix it, and move on.  And in the process learn the true value and power of responsibility.

People need to Own it, Fix it, and Move on.  My question to you is this.  When you live in a society that suggests that you take no responsibility, rely on others to fix the problems, and encourages you to play the victim and to not move on, how do you teach your children those values?  Instead of society maturing, and growing, it plays the part of the two year old and tries to avoid responsibility in all forms.  How do you think we can turn things around, and have people mature, so that people own their mistakes, find ways to fix those mistakes, and then move on with the maturity the experience has given them?

What is all the buzz? – Cicada

IMG_6669Cicada are an interesting insect.  And they are not something you see or hear very often in the high desert.  We have a couple of willow trees in our front yard, and they have been buzzing with the sounds of cicada.

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I guess the cicada like the sap of the willow trees.  You can hear them coming from other parts of the yard, but the number in the willow trees overshadows the other locations.  The cicada feed off the sap of trees and other plants.  They don’t usually don’t cause harm to the trees.  They don’t bite, or sting, so they are harmless to people as well.  I think the birds on the farm are going to find them very tasty.  I am tempted to capture one and see how well the chickens like them.

Here are a couple of interesting facts that I found out about cicada that I did not know until I started to research them.

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1- There are several different types.  There are the type that you only see every 16-17 years (periodic cicadas), and then there are a type that make their appearance every year or annually.   I believe that is the type we see here in Utah, because we hear them every year, but not in as great a number as this year.

2- They don’t rub their wings or legs together to make their buzzing noise, but they have special chambers that they have in their body that they then vibrate to create the buzzing noise.  The expand and contract these chambers which make a special adaptation of their exoskeleton vibrate.  The males are the ones that are making the noise. You can listen to their buzz or song here.

3- They regulate their temperature using a form of evaporation.  They will excrete the sap, in the form of water, that they feed on.  This makes them pretty unique because they are doing the same thing that mammals do, they are in essence sweating.

4- They also have a rich history in old texts, and lore. “Cicadas have been featured in literature since the time of Homer’s Iliad, and as motifs in art from the Chinese Shang dynasty. They have been used in myths and folklore to represent carefree living and immortality. Cicadas are eaten in various countries, including China, where the nymphs are served deep-fried in Shandong cuisine.” [Source]

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Adult cicada emerging from exuvia

Plantain, Nature’s Band-aid

Plantain is another favorite medicinal weed of mine. This plant can easily be found in lawns, cracks of sidewalks, along roadways and in abandoned fields. Plantain is native to Europe and Asia, and now can be found throughout North America.There are two main varieties of plantain: broad leaf and narrow leaf, both can be used medicinally and have the same action as each other.

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Broad leaf plantain

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Narrow leaf plantain

Here at Quail Run Farm we cultivate the narrow leaf plantain in our orchard meadow.  It is one of the plantings I use around the base of our fruit trees. Plantain is a “pioneer plant” when the soil is harsh or has been disturbed plantain likes to come in and clean things up, making the environment more suitable for other plants. That is why you will find plantain along sidewalks and roads, and one of the reasons I have chosen it for planting in the Orchard Meadow.  The land here is very abused, very infertile, lacking organic matter and vitality.  Plantain has a deep tap root, it will going down into the soil, nice and deep breaking up hard dirt and adding organic materials.  At the surface it is great for “chop and drop”, several times a year I can just cop the leaves and leave them right on the ground, thus adding organic matter and mulch, helping retain moisture and add fertility. However my favorite thing about plantain is its medicinal properties!
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One of plantain’s most common uses is as a poultice for stings, bites, scrapes and rashes. The simplest way to harness plantain’s healing powers is to crush a few fresh leaves, and apply to the affected area. Replace fresh leaves as necessary. The fresh plantain “juice” takes the pain away and seems to work wonders at staunching blood flow and closing wound edges. It’s also wonderfully refreshing and soothing to sunburn.

Plantain infusion (tea) can also be used as a soothing wash for sunburn, windburn, rashes, or wounds. To make a plantain infusion, simply add a small handful of fresh plantain leaves to a cup or two of water, and bring to a gentle boil. Turn off heat, and let steep, then strain out the leaves. The infusion is best when fresh, although it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

http://www.prairielandherbs.com/plantain.htm

Whenever my children have a cut or insect sting, I walk out to the meadow, pick a leaf and chew it up (my kids think that is so gross) and apply a bit of the macerated leaf to the wound and cover with a band-aid.  The pain and irritation go away quickly and in the case of a open sore, heals very fast.

Plantain leaf ointment can stop itching faster than anything I’ve ever used, and it eases even the most intense itches. From diaper rash to flea bites, eczema to dry skin, plantain turns tears of pain to smiles of relief. New mothers swear by plantain ointment as a diaper cream, both to prevent and to treat diaper rash. It relieves the itch of heat rash and poison ivy/oak rash, too.

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In the winter time, however, there is not fresh plantain available, it is sleeping deeply under the snow and frozen ground. My favorite way to preserve plantain for medical use is to make an infused oil.  It’s a very simple process that I will walk you through.

After picking the plantain leaves I do a quick shake to get dust off, but I do not wash the leaves.  Any water left on those leaves may promote spoiling while it is infusing, and because my orchard is not sprayed I don’t need to wash off any herbicide, and any other things that may be clinging to the leaves are good for our immune system and microbiology. I chop the leaves roughly and then pack them as tightly as I can in a quart canning jar, over that I pour olive oil, using a chop stick or butter knife to get out as many bubbles as I can.  The jar is then labeled with a date and stored in my pantry for six weeks.  When the six weeks are up the leaves are strained out and the oil is stored in a cool dark place.  This oil will be good for about a year.  The oil can also be used to make an ointment by adding bees wax, something I will be experimenting with this summer.

Plantain, another glorious weed, a treasure chest of healing right at our feet.
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Spring Greens

One of the first vegetables on the farm is lettuce, pretty little leaf lettuce.  It has a rather short growing season, when the fiery heat of the summer rolls in the lettuce likes to grow bitter and make seeds.  We are experimenting with methods to keep the lettuces cool and hopefully prolong the harvest.  But for now we will enjoy the pretty little fresh greens on our table and hope our customers do the same.
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Comfrey Harvest

When the comfrey starts blooming it’s time to harvest! I so love the pretty purple flowers of the comfrey plant. When the comfrey produces a long stalk and flashes her blossoms its time to start cutting.  Through out the season I do pick the big, broad leaves for infused oils, but it is that long stalk that I look for to dry.  The stalk has a concentration of the healing compounds that comfrey is so well known for.
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Comfrey-the-comforting, also known as knit-bone, strengthens and heals the bones, the skin, the ligaments, the tendons, and the mucus surfaces of the intestines, the lungs, the sinuses, the throat, the vagina, and the anus. It contains two alkaloid groups: alantoin and PAs. Alantoin is responsible for comfrey’s ability to heal any injury – from bedsores to vaginal tears, from lacerations to piercings, from abrasions to severe burns – quickly and thoroughly. Comfrey leaf infusion (not tea, not tincture, not capsules) is very high in protein, macro- and trace-minerals, and every vitamin needed for good health – with the exception of vitamin B12.
Drinking comfrey infusion has benefitted me in many ways: It keeps my bones strong and flexible. It strengthens my digestion and elimination. It keeps my lungs and respiratory tract healthy. It keeps my face wrinkle-free and my skin and scalp supple. And, please don’t forget, comfrey contains special proteins needed for the formation of short-term memory cells. Comfrey (Symphytum) leaf is free of the compounds (PAs) found in the root that can damage the liver. I have used comfrey leaf infusion regularly for decades with no liver problems, ditto for the group of people at the Henry Doubleday Research Foundation who have eaten cooked comfrey leaves as a vegetable for four generations. Comfrey is also known as “knitbone,” and no better ally for the woman with thin bones can be found.. Its soothing mucilage adds flexibility to joints, eyes, vagina, and lungs. Comfrey leaf infusion used internally and as a sitz bath is excellent at easing hemorrhoids .

IMG_6417Comfrey is quite easy to dry, but there are some considerations.  The leaves are quite big and hold a lot of moisture, therefore they need to be dried loosely.  Typically a person will gather a large bunch of plant materials, tie it in a bundle and dry.  This won’t work with comfrey, I have ruined many batches by doing it this way, the comfrey will mold, and we don’t want that.  Instead I have found that it is just as easy to hang each stalk on a nail and it drys very quickly this way, with out the mold.

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My herb drying racks, I love it when it is nice and full.

IMG_6419IMG_6420After a couple weeks the comfrey will be nice and dry.  At this point I will chop it up and store it in brown bags in a dark dry place.  The reason I use brown bags is so any moisture that is left can be wicked out, instead of growing mold. I will use this through out the year in herbal infusions and poultices.  Comfrey is one of my favorites for the garden, and for the body.

You can read more on Comfrey here: Comfrey 

Planting Permaculture Style

One of the hallmarks of permaculture is using deep mulch to build fertility, slow down weed growth and preserve moisture. We’ve spent many hours gathering yard waste, chipping and shredding it and spreading it in the garden beds. In some of the beds we already had plants growing, in those beds we piled the mulch around the seedlings. But in other beds, that hadn’t been planted yet we covered the entire thing.
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Which makes things a little different come planting time.  In the past it was fairly straight forward, hoe a little row, sprinkle seeds, cover and water.  Done.  Simple.

When using deep mulching the trick is to get the seeds in the soil, to dig past all the mulch to the actual dirt.  People do this two different ways, some people dig down, and some people dig a little hole or row and fill it with compost for the seeds to grow in. I used the “dig down” method.  Having ten 50×4 foot beds to plant, that is a lot of compost to haul around and add!
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Using a hoe I dug down, a good six to eight inches to reach the soil for my little seeds.  I was amazed at the difference in the soil already, after only having prepared the beds a few months ago.  It makes me excited, I am looking forward to seeing how great the soil will be next year and the next!

Building our own soil, building our fertility, growing food for our family and for others, making the world beautiful and productive all the while honoring the natural systems that have been here from the beginning.  That is the goal of Quail Run Farm and one of our greatest labors of love.
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Goats

Guest Post by
Kit 

On May 28, we had some new additions to the farm, three little baby goats. At only a month old, they had never been away from their mother, we had to become their moms. First we named them, we took a family vote. We all decided on Dolly for the girl, she is the most stubborn, and she gets her way. We have to hold her the most and get her used to us handling her because we will be milking her in the future. Then there is Jeb, he is the one with big black patches on him, he has the biggest horns and just likes to play. Lastly we have the runt, Jethro, he looks just like Dolly, but he is the littlest and just likes to be around us.

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Dolly the little girl

They totally depend on us just like they had with their mother. So we had to get them used to us so they thought of us as family, and they would trust us so we can feed and milk them. We got them and we just played with them, all the little kids were holding them. They really loved all the attention. we got little harnesses for them, so we can let them graze and can control where they go. Then we showed them their house and the yard they would stay in and graze.

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Jed learning how to use a bottle

Because we are their “moms” we have to feed them just like their mother did. It was hard to get them to take the bottle, we had to get them to open their mouths and to actually stay drinking it. It was very messy. When we first started they would hardly have anything, and they needed three ounces each feeding, three times a day. Now that they have been with us for a week and a half, they have figured it all out. We got special goat bottles that are more like what they are used to so it got easier.
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Now we just hold the bottle out and they come and know how it all works, they even follow us when we have the bottle. That’s how we get them back into the yard now, just hold out a bottle and they will go where you want them to. Dolly took the longest to figure it out, and she wasn’t eating as much as her brothers, or what she needed to at all. She just figured it all out today, things have to happen when she wants them to or not at all.
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The first night we had them, they got out! lucky they didn’t want to explore, and just went to the house. we fixed the gate so they can’t get out anymore. one day we went out for their feeding and Jethro had his head stuck in the gate. Who knows what other surprises will happen with them. One thing the goats really like is to be held, one time Dolly was sitting on my lap and she fell asleep. First day we got them, Jethro let me hold him like a baby.
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It’s really cool and funny to see how much personality they each have. Jethro really likes to nibble on our clothes, fingers, and even hair, if he can get to it. Dolly always plays “king of the hill” (or in this case log, rocks, or even our backs if we are bending over) she can pretty much climb everywhere and beats her brothers at it. Jeb is just there, he kinda does his own thing but he is the first to get the bottle when ever he can just pushes Jethro out of the way.
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Spring Medicinals for Winter

Late Spring and Early Summer are great times for harvesting WEEDS!  (Have I ever mentioned how much I love weeds?) In late spring there is a burst of growth, plants are getting ready to harvest the heat and sunshine of the summer time. This year I found several curly dock plants in my garden isles between the beds.  I was terribly excited, although I don’t think anyone really shared  my excitement over another weed. I waited for the leaves to get nice and big and then harvested it to make herbal vinegar.

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Curly Dock with seed heads

Young Curly Dock

Dock, also called yellow dock, curly dock, and broad dock is a perennial plant, which my Native American grandmothers use for “all women’s problems.” I dig the yellow roots of Rumex crispus or R. obtusifolius and tincture them. I also harvest the leaves and/or seeds throughout the growing season to increase blood-levels of iron, reduce menstrual flooding and cramping, and correct hormone levels.

Susun Weed 

I coarsely chopped the leaves, tightly packed them into a quart jar and them filled the jar to the top with pasteurized apple cider vinegar. The vinegar will help break down the cell walls and release the minerals and other beneficial constituents. A tablespoon of vinegar daily will help with iorn levels and “all women’s problems”.  After six weeks I will strain the plant matter and store the vinegar in a cool dark place.
IMG_6406Another plant I have been harvesting a lot of is the Common Mallow. We eat mallow fresh, cooked, we dry, tincture and vinegar mallow. I wrote an article about the medicianl properties of mallow here: Not So Common Mallow .
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This batch of Mallow I made into an infused vinegar for use in the winter time when coughs and colds sneak in.  I find a tablespoon of vinegar with honey in warm water much easier to get down the throat of a child than an infusion.

Mallow and I have become good friends and ally’s through the year and I hope to discover more of her.
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Things that attract

IMG_40231At some point you may want to try to attract a specific animal, insect, or plant to live on your property.  I have heard people talk about wanting to have more birds, butterflies, and other things visit, and or live on their property.  Many times, people will plant a specific plant, put in a bird house, or a water feature in the hopes that they will attract wildlife.  But then they are disappointed when over time the visitor does not come.  I have learned that it can be tricky to attract living things to your property.  But there are some things you can do that will greatly enhance your ability to attract animals, insects, and birds if you first understand the living organism first.

Every living thing needs three things to survive.  Insects, animals, and plants all need these three essential things to thrive and live in an environment.  If you want to attract specific insects, animals, or plants to your property, you need to supply them with the correct, water, food, and shelter.

First, every living organism needs water.  If you can provide the water that the living system needs, you have over come the first obstacle.  Not only do they need water, but they need the correct, amount, type, and source of water.  Some animals need running water, while others need standing water.  When you research what water the living organism needs that you want to attract, you have to keep in mind the depth, flow, temperature, mineral content, and a number of other things. To make the environment livable for a specific creature, you need to supply the correct amount of water.  It is not about making water available, but about making the correct amount, and type of water available.

For example, if you want to attract bees to your property, one way to do that is to give the bees a shallow pool of water that they can stop in and drink from.  Most people only concentrate on the flowers or the food bees need of attract them, but water can also attract bees. This article talks specifically about bees and how to provide water for them: Thirsty bees

Source: Root Simple – low tech home tech

Purple-throated carib hummingbird feeding.

Second, all living organisms have a need food.  Everything has to consume some type of food to survive.  For plants it is not only minerals from the ground, but also energy from the sun.  If you can supply the correct type of food for the living creature, you can attract it, and encourage it to stay on your property.  Food sources could include plants, insects, and other animals.   If you want to attract certain types of birds, you may need to also attract the insects that they use as a food source.  Food sources can very drastically from one species to another.  It is very important that you research what food source, and types of food the organism needs that you are trying to attract.

For Example,  if you want to attract a specific type of bird to your property, you would need to research the type of flowers, that those birds are attracted to.  Birds are so varied in their food sources that research is key.  Hummingbirds enjoy different flowers than a swallow would enjoy.  And if you are trying to attract birds of prey, it is not the flowers that will attract them, but the animals that are attracted by the flowers.

Apiary in South Carolina

Third, all organisms need some type of shelter.  Shelter serves several purposes.  It allows the creature to stay out of the elements if it needs to.  It can keep snow, rain, sun and other elements away when they could become to harsh for the creature to survive.  But it can also provide a place for the creature to hide from predators as well.  Shelters will be different for most living creatures.  If you want to attract a specific type of bird, you will probably need a specific type of nesting box.

On thing that we have tried is to create an area where insects can find a home on Quail Run Farm.  We have created our Fairy Hotel to try to encourage insects to take up residence.  We have also encouraged Kestrels to take up residence on the property by having a Kestrel nesting box put in place.

CONCLUSION

If you want to attract a living organism to your property or yard, you need to do some research.  If you can find out what type of water, food, and shelter the organism needs, you may be able to get it to take up residence in your yard.

You will also want to eliminate habitat for the predators of the creatures you are trying to attract.  Pets can also keep certain creatures from finding your property a place they want to habitat.

The opposite is also true.  If you have a pest that you want to get rid of, you can declare war on that pest by eliminating one or all three of the things they need to survive.  For example, you don’t like snakes around your yard, then eliminate the food source, or the shelter for the snake.  You will find that you can do things to convince almost any living creature to move on, and find water, food or shelter in another yard.

Blue Flax

In the mornings when you look west of our property there is a strip of brilliant blue standing out among the softer shades of green sage and the dusty browns.  It is striking, and beautiful and mysterious.  One morning Dadzoo and I decided to take a walk down there to see the wild flowers, I already knew what they were, we have scattered clumps of the blue flower in our back pastures, but I had never seen such a concentration of them and I had to walk among them.
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Our farm is set on the rising foothill  of Lake Mountain, so we are a bit above everything and have a great view of the flowers, but as we walked in to the valley the field of blue was obscured by swales in the ground and the tall sage brush that twisted and turned towards the sky, some reaching six feet tall. As we came over a small rise in the ground we saw this.
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Acres of blue flax, waving and dancing in the early morning breeze, their faces wide open facing the bright morning sun.
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IMG_6465It was glorious and beautiful, such a concentration of blue flowers in the desert, a herald to the coming summer, a shout to Mother Earth and Father in Heaven.
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