Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sneaky Snake?

After my husband spent an hour trying to drag a piece of tree to the truck that weighed 3 times more than he did, he looked down and saw a snake.

Our very first snake!

Unfortunately, it seemed that we had just run over it, as it didn't move.

He picked it up and set it in the truck bed for a closer look.

Here's a closer look at its head.

Not bad for a Blackberry, huh?

The snake looked just fine to us.  Of course, a truck is pretty heavy, but we're hoping it was just playing dead.

We put it back on the ground.

A little snake research showed that some snakes like to play dead. 

Hopefully it won't be there when we visit the next time, though that may not tell us much.

Happy Thoughts

20 years ago today, my husband asked me to marry him.

I'm so glad I said yes!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Picnic Table

Every time we visit our woods, there is no place to sit.  So we decided to stop at a local hardware store and pick up a picnic table we had admired.

We'd like to buy a picnic table.

Oh you really don't want it.

Yes, we do.  How much is it?

It's too much.

Well how much is that?


And so my husband made one.

First he made it at our house.  But the darn thing weighed about 250 pounds, so we disassembled it, put it in the truck and reassembled it when we got to The Farm.

Now I know what you are thinking, but yes, he remembered to number all of the pieces, so it went together really fast.

Happy Distractions

I need to distract myself today, so I thought I would put up a picture of something that makes me smile.

It took my husband and I about 2 months to pick out and about 4 hours to put up this cattle fence in September.

Please ignore the fact that if we had cows, they could walk right around the fence.


In retirement, my Dad, who lives in Roanoke, Virginia, has become an orchid fanatic.  He has about 150 orchids, up from 100 just a few years ago.

And those are the ones he admits to.

Years ago he and my Mom had a sun room built because they wanted a sunny 'extra room'.  Mom and I know it was just so he would have a place to put his orchids in the winter.  As we speak, he is working on creating a computer-controlled mister that will allow him (!) to go on trips without worrying about the orchids.

He has been trying to convert me for years, giving me his extras after repotting, taking me to orchid shows, asking me how my orchids are doing.

I always told him to only give me ones he could stand to let go, as I have a black thumb.  I probably have about 20 now. 

My husband wishes he had the thousands of dollars back I have spent on plants that haven't made it.  He even told me once to please just write a check to the garden center and not come home with any plants, as it would save him the effort of planting and then digging up a dead plant.

Well of course the free plants are doing just fine. 

Over Thanksgiving my Dad and I were trying to determine if there were orchids that could withstand the temperatures at our Tree Farm in Northern Florida.

This morning, I came upon a link to Native Florida Orchids.  Apparently there are quite a few.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We Need a Shelter

So why is my husband lying on the ground like he’s about to die?

Well, it started out as such a simple idea. We want to camp in the clearing in the middle of our property, but we need a shelter for our pop up camper (it’s kind of old).   A metal pole barn would be just perfect, but it would cost too much money.

My husband said we don’t need a metal pole barn!  I can make a pole barn out of our own trees!  Why would anyone do anything else when there were thousands of trees around us we could use?

Well, the first thing you have to do is cut down some trees.  We guessed about 6 trees would do it.  One would think that being surrounded by trees, we could find 6 to cut. 

But no. 

This one was too big around.  This one would probably fall against this other really nice tree and scar it.  We should keep this tree because it is so beautiful.  This tree is too small…….

I’m not sure we can be tree farmers if we are afraid of cutting down trees.

‘We’, of course, being the colloquial ‘we’.   As in, just about every tree seemed fine to me to cut down.

He finally found one that would be all right to cut down.  It was about 65 feet high and 20 yards away from our driveway.  He cut it down no problem, and then into sections.  The first section was about 13 feet long.

Now.  Moving this section seemed like no big deal.  It's just part of a tree after all.  But when he went to lift it, it weighed about 350 pounds.

I told him to leave it.  We could find something closer to cut down.  I said this knowing it would take another 2 hours to find another appropriate tree.  I am a good wife.

But no.  My 54 year old I-think-I’m-still-twenty husband slowly dragged it through the brambles to our truck and got it in the bed.

Then went back for the next 11 foot section and loaded it onto the truck.

Being somewhat crippled, all I could do is watch and cheer him on.

And of course take pictures.

We have 5 more trees to cut down and move to the middle of our property.  This shelter is going to take a while.  We’ll get the rest on our next visit. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


In May we found acres and acres of blackberries on our Farm.  Dreams of selling them to the local health food store danced in our head.  It didn't matter that we would bleed to death trying to pick them all.

By mid June, they were ready.

My Dad said they were just brambles.

Not knowing what a bramble is, I looked it up.  Ok, so brambles are thorny plants that include blackberries and raspberries.

But I bet he doesn't know that the leaves are a main food source of stick insects, which I think is what this is.

Mystery track

This summer my husband came upon this track:

We'd never seen anything like it (though that's not saying much).

Here is another view with my husband's hand as  reference:

My husband has big hands.  Whatever it was, it was not small, which was a little scary.

Then I pictured someone carrying around a claw foot on a stick, stamping the path to see if the city folk would think it was a real track.

We went home and did some research on the internet.

A bear?  Nope.  Too few toes.

Big foot?  Not found in Florida.

Sasquatch?  The same.

It also wasn't a hog or a turkey.

We were pretty convinced it was a Skunk Ape for quite a while, but further research showed (Thank God), that their toes are more human-like. Skunk Apes smell and are aggressive towards humans.

So we asked our friend Ron, who has lived in the area for a long time.

He said if you look really close....... can see two overlapping deer prints.

So there it is.  We have deer on our country property.  Who knew? 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Property

Our property is about 20 acres.  Much more than we ever dreamed of owning when we first started looking 10 years ago. 

The chalk colored areas are what our neighbor Ron calls "dry ponds".  We hope they stay that way, but something tells me they won't.

The driveway starts at the top and ends in the middle at a clearing we think was created by fire about 10 years ago.

While most of the property is slash pine, there is a gorgeous old oak tree in the clearing on the edge of the dry pond.

During the height of the real estate boom, a developer bought a large Timber property and subdivided it.  In a weekend, all the lots were sold mostly to Miami investors.  The preferred method of financing was 3 year, interest only, balloon mortgages.   Now many are owned by the bank and are auctioned off. 

And this is how we came to own our own piece of paradise.


My husband, daughter and I moved to Florida 15 years ago.  We live in the heart of downtown in the Tampa area, and in the last few years decided we needed some country or we would have to move.

Recently we found a bank-owned property about two hours away that used to be part of a very large timber company and bought it at auction.

The realities of country life versus our imagination have thus far proved to be so bizarre and hilarious and wonderful that I thought we would share.   This blog will chronicle for our family and friends our city slicker attempts at getting to know country life.

We are complete green beans.