Su Ba

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since Apr 18, 2013
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forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
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

Adam harvested a bunch of bananas today. We've been watching them for a couple of months now, waiting for them to be ready. Today was the day. The bunch is so heavy that Adam had a bugger of a time lifting and carrying the thing. These bunches can be quite heavy.

This variety is a Williams. A commercial variety, it's not the best banana in Hawaii. We have plenty of others on the farm that taste far better. But we grow some Williams because ....
.... we happen to have them, so we don't throw them away
.... they produce very large bunches that give us lots of bananas for feeding not only ourselves, but also the livestock.

Most of these bananas will end up going to the chickens. Adam will eat some. Normally our excess stuff gets sold or traded, but most people around here are spoiled by the better tasting banana varieties that are available, thus not wanting the Williams.

4 hours ago
I'd agree with pachysandra for Marykand area. When I lived in NJ, I had pachysandra and it was an easy ground cover.
2 weeks ago
A month ago I planted seedlings into two of my greenhouses (actually they are high tunnels because they are just screened on the ends and have no heat systems). Tomatoes -- five varieties. And basil & cilantro. I've been harvesting Ieaves off the cilantro and basil for the past two weeks, selling them at the farmers market and trading or giving away the excess. The tomato plants have been blooming and are already setting tiny fruits. It will be awhile still before I harvest ripe tomatoes.

The gardens around the house have been producing plenty for making soups and stir fries. Beans, peas, green onions, sweet potatoes & greens, pipinola shoots, Chinese greens, parsley, other greens,  etc. Instead of having a lawn, I have food producing gardens.
2 weeks ago
Your garden looks really good. It's very challenging to grow in your environment, and it looks like you are doing a great job!
2 weeks ago
Rufaro, it is so good hearing from you again! I have thought about you frequently and have been hoping that you and your family were well.

Producing food appears to be quite challenging where you are. It sounds like you are having some success. Keep up the good work!!!
1 month ago
Lorinne, I don't think there is anything we could say that will change the way mainlanders are dealing with their crisis. Hawai'i has a unique culture which incorporates aspects of Old Hawaiian and oriental cultures. And here there is a lot of respect issues when it comes to ohama (family), Aunties, Uncles, and Tutus (the elderly who culturally are given respect). So although we of course have our rogue elements in our society, in general there is an obedient respect for long as it doesn't counter Hawaiian cultural tradition or values.

One thing that drove the State of Hawai'i to action was the fact that we have few hospital beds, few ICU units, and very few ventilators. There is no way the State could deal with a major outbreak without massive suffering and deaths at home. That, plus the call from the public to take serious action, forced officials to act. Our governor dragged his feet initially, but a major call for action by the public forced him to act. One thing that really impresses me here in Hawai'i is the the public has significant power to sway officials. Not on every issue that's for sure, but they really can often swing things in their favor.

Restrictions really suck. No doubt about it. On with most of the islands here, our communities are small. It didn't take long before communities themselves were impacted, and it really hurt to see a favorite town Auntie dying from this virus. It got personal. It wasn't just some faceless statistic that got the disease. So while people grumble a bit about the restrictions, we don't hear many loud complaints. When such complaints get aired, some respected elder within hearing range speaks up, shaming or berating the complainer. End of story.

Do we enjoy the peace and quiet? I haven't heard anyone here say that. In general the Hawaiian residents enjoy their tourists. They are friendly with them, help them out. Hawai'i is very much an Aloha state. And of course, much of the State relies upon the tourists to financially survive. While there are things that are annoying about tourists (they litter horribly, leave messes behind in their hotel rooms, and are awfully rude by Hawaiian standards), people here still welcome them to our islands.

The way Hawai'i is slowing this epidemic is via forced social distancing (including lockdown), sanitation, and facial covering. Only three of the islands have things under control. Two more are almost there. And two need help. As I stated before, we are hoping for an early release of a working vaccine.
2 months ago
Hawaii Proactive Fight Against Coronavirus Epidemic--

The State of Hawaii started out a bit too slow in the beginning of this epidemic, and is now paying the price with persistent coronavirus cases in certain parts of the state. But public uproar and demands via email and social media pressured the State and counties to take stronger steps. Yes, the public demanded protective action. Parks were closed, tourist attractions closed, beaches closed, all non essential businesses closed, schools closed. Social gathering is banned except under certain conditions, and in those situations social distancing is enforced. Violation of the social distancing order results in citation, often arrest, and a $5000 fine. People entering the State are subject to a mandatory 14 day quarantine, enforced with arrest and a $5000 fine if violated. Travelers without hotel reservations are offered a choice at the airport : arrest or turn around and go back where they came from. All B&Bs, time shares, airbnbs, and any other type of short term rentals are banned from operating. Travel between the islands is restricted to essential travel only. Most of those travelers are required to self quarantine for 14 days. The only exceptions to the travel regulations are essential workers, such as nurses, doctors, military, etc. The military personnel quarantine on their bases. All cruise ship dockings/passengers are banned. Plus the entire State is on lockdown. Violations result in citations, fines, and sometimes arrests.

Today the State tightened up the rules in an effort to knock down the epidemic. The majority of the public appears to be embracing the new regulations with approval in hopes that their particular island will rid itself of the scourge. (Lana'i & Ni'ihau have zero cases and have entry to the island locked out, Molokai'i has had two cases and aggressively contained the virus site thus resulting in no new cases to date, Kaua'i new cases momentarily have stalled,  Hawai'i island cases have slowed though recently there has been a cluster event at McDonald's among the employees and their families.) Coronavirus is still not contained on Mau'i and Oahu. So new mandates have gone into effect. Social distancing is now required to be enforced, where before people were asked to do it but it wasn't mandated. Facial masks are now required not only inside businesses but also while outside waiting to enter a business. Group outdoor hiking is banned. Even boat fishing is now limited to two persons unless they live together as a household. At the same time the Governor provided protection against eviction.

Hawai'i has been the hardest hit State when it comes to financial. The entire tourist industry is shutdown, which has killed all supporting industries. All non essential businesses are shuttered. The State has a large number of self employed day work type people  who now have no income. A significant portion of business employees have no income since unemployment applications are dragging in getting approved. Cargo transport to and from Hawai'i has been affected.

And yet, the public patiently waits, watching the daily numbers carefully. They are demanding more testing. More efforts to contain the epidemic. They cannot understand the mainland demonstrations to lift restrictions. They see it as insanity and suicide.

Some of the Hawaiian islands are in a very good position when it comes to this epidemic. What they are doing is called preventative measures. Two of the islands need to catch up and the other islands are cheering them on, willing to sacrifice in hopes that they too will contain this monster well enough until a vaccine is available.

Here in Hawai'i we are working hard on preventing the spread of coronavirus.
2 months ago
Flora, I think it's a lot of fun to experiment and try new things. I'd suggest that you keep good notes about your set up and observations so that you can make changes and improvements.  Who knows, you might discover an angle that nobody has hit upon yet!

Burl, I've also thought about using mirrors to create a solar cooker. I just haven't gotten around to it yet because I already have a Sun Oven. The oven has polished aluminum reflectors, not much unlike mirrors. But they have the advantage of being lightweight, thus easier to use. People do use mirrors to concentrate the sun rays and those cookers can be very powerful, but need tending because the sun's position is constantly changing. My Sun Oven also needs tending, but it's not as sensitive as a parabolic mirror set up.

Flora, with my Sun Oven I find that it generates a whole lot more heat when there is a closed oven, rather than open to the air. When my oven gets too hot, one of the things I can do is crack open the lid a bit, which lets a portion of the heat escape. I've found that using a thin metal, black pot works better than a clear glass pot. The contents cook a lot faster.

The idea of using the blanket is worth exploring. It would be great for backpackers, I should think.
2 months ago
Another use for a sun oven.

With coronavirus on my island that is being community spread, I take a number of precautions if I need to leave the homestead. One of those is the wearing of a facial mask. I ALWAYS wear a mask when off the property now. I keep a few in the truck, stored in containers to keep them clean and uncontaminated. If I would need to change the mask before getting home, the used one gets dropped into its storage container for sanitizing later. Yes, I immediately put the lid on so any possible virus is sealed away. And yes, I'm very careful not to touch the exterior of the mask.

So what happens when I get back to the homestead? If the sun is out, I'll immediately go sanitize the mask. If not, then the sealed container is stored in a safe place away from the curious cats and dogs, awaiting the sun.

I use my Sun Oven to sanitize BOTH the mask and its container. I'll use a pair of chopsticks (you could use tongs) to open the container and remove the mask. The mask, container and lid are arranged inside the sun oven, and the chopstick dropped into the oven too. Then the lid is shut in such a manner that the temperature goes to 200° F. I could fiddle with the lid to get a temperature of 150° F, but I already have a stop for the lid to give me 200°F, so I use it. I'll leave the Sun Oven do its thing while I go unload the truck, or let the dogs loose for a run, or collect the chicken eggs....whatever task takes about 15-20 minutes. By 20 minutes, things are well baked......and sanitized. I'll pop the mask back into its storage container, put it back into the truck ready for its next use, and stow the Sun Oven. Simple. Easy. Quick.
2 months ago