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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Worlds Smallest Chameleon...

Well, this doesn't really have anything at all to do with being a 'self sustaining family,' but I thought the article was interesting anyway, and so many of us are pretty in tune with Mother Nature, that I thought it would be enjoyed by all... here's the article...



A juvenile of the tiniest chameleon species ever discovered perches on a researcher's fingertip. Image: PLoS
A species of chameleon small enough to easily perch on a match head has been discovered on a tiny island off Madagascar, a group of scientists has announced.
In addition to the discovery of Brookesia micra, now the tiniest chameleon ever discovered, the researchers also announced the discovery of three additional tiny chameleon species.
Adult males of the B. micra species grow to only just over a half-inch (16 millimeters) from nose to bottom, making them one of the smallest vertebrates ever found on Earth.
From nose to tail, adults of both sexes grow to only 1 inch (30 mm) in length.
Lead researcher Frank Glaw said the team already had experience finding tiny lizards in Madagascar, "but it was also good luck."
The team searched for the tiny lizards under the cover of darkness, using headlamps and flashlights to seek out the sleeping chameleons. All four species are active during the day, and at night climb up into the branches to sleep.
But for such tiny critters, "up into the branches" means a mere 4 inches (10 centimeters) off the ground, Glaw told OurAmazingPlanet, so finding them is no easy task. However, once spotted, the tiny lizards aren't tough to catch, Glaw said.
"They are sleeping and you can just pick them up. It's like picking a strawberry, so it's easy," Glaw said. "They do not move at all at night."
The team of scientists found the tiny reptiles in Madagascar's wild northern regions during expeditions between 2003 and 2007. For three of the species, "we immediately identified them as new species," said Glaw, a veteran herpetologist and curator at the Museum of Natural History in Munich.
"In general, these tiny chameleons are so small that it's really hard to see the small differences with the naked eye," he said.
The researchers warn that at least two of the newly-discovered chameleon species are extremely threatened because of habitat loss and deforestation in Madagascar.
Glaw, who has been going to Madagascar to research its ever-expanding list of amphibians and reptiles for a quarter century, said that B. micra may represent the limit of miniaturization possible for a vertebrate with complex eyes, but said it's impossible to know for sure since each time scientists have proclaimed the discovery of the tiniest one yet, another, tinier species appears.
"Maybe there's a potential for a smaller species," Glaw said.
Another group of researchers recently announced the discovery of the world's smallest frog species in Papua New Guinea. The scientists also declared it the world's smallest vertebrate, but others contend that a species of angler fish is the smallest vertebrate yet discovered on Earth.
Glaw is planning another expedition to the region of Madagascar in November.
"I'm sure there are many surprises awaiting discovery," he said.
The research is published in the Feb. 15 issue of the open access journal PLoS ONE.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

we finally found the land, but now...

Well, it's been an interesting couple of weeks.  First off, I'm sorry I haven't updated this blog in so long.  I did try a small garden here at the place we're at right now, but nothing survived.  This was partly due to my own negligence, and partly due to some not so great soil conditions.  Actually, the plants were doing so poorly because of the soil that that is the reason I started losing interest and just more or less gave up.

Just to give you a little 'background', I owned a house in suburbia, that I let slip into foreclosure when the economy started to fail back in 2007.  I also got divorced at the same time, making the house impossible for me to keep up with, so I abandoned it and rented something smaller.  Then I met my current husband.

He lived and worked a good two hours from me when we met, and since I worked at home, it made sense for us to move closer to his job.  Move we did, only to discover that the house we rented was in foreclosure- after having dumped close to $7,000 into the move and fixing up the house.

Faced with the prospect of having nowhere to go, we chose to go stay with a friend, back up even further from his job than I had lived.  We decided that he would give his notice, and we would both find jobs in that area, and I would keep my work at home job for a third income to help get us back on our feet.

But living with friends doesn't work out for very long, and we were certainly no exception to that rule.  We wound up living in a motel for about 5 weeks.  I worked my work at home job to cover the expenses, and very soon found a full time job. We then moved to this house.

It was cheap, close to work, and on the bus line.  But it's still not ours. And as time went on, I became more and more interested in finding ways to be more self sustaining and less at the mercy of others.  I wanted to know that I could grow food and build shelter.

In 2011, I became fascinated by the survivalist lifestyle.  I spent countless hours on forums, and reading blogs about gardening, micro farming, raising chickens, building shelters, DIY boats, alternative energy... anything you could think of.  I even started watching "Rocket City Rednecks."

 As much as I wanted to move to some land somewhere, it just wasn't in the cards with one income. Then I got laid off in Sept 2011, and I had mostly abandoned my work at home job for my full time job, and my husband didn't find work until Dec 2011.

Finally in December, my husband found a job driving a cab, and in January, I started doing the same.  The job is ok.  We work some very long hours just to make enough money to get by, but it's cash in our pocket every day, and we run the bank. There is no worry of showing up to work one day, and the doors being closed with the company owing us 2 weeks worth of pay.

We finally felt that we could be secure enough to move, so we started looking.  We found one place where the land was 1.7 acres and that was perfect, but the house was just too small.  We found another one where the house was huge and the owner claimed that the land was on 1.5 acres (but it looked more like 2.5 acres to me, and I have a pretty good eye for square footage).  Hubby was worried it would just be too much work for us to take care of, and the worst part was that there was a lake behind it. It was fenced off, but still, my kids are engineering enough to climb right over that. Plus, water moccassins and gators had me a little freaked.

But, we had decided to take it anyway. Until...I called my title company to find out about the status of the house I had abandoned to be foreclosed on back in 2007.  Well, it turned out the banks attorney was indicted on federal charges for robo signing last year, and the bank had to start the whole foreclosure process all over again.   They never did, and in October of 2011, the judge sent the bank a notice to either respond to questions about the case, or the court would dismiss it.  The bank did not respond and the courts have now dismissed the whole case.

So, title says we can live there easily for another year and a half to two years, and all we'll have to pay are the utilities.  Which are less than just the rent on the house we were looking at, and are about the same amount we've been paying for rent with utilities included in this tiny house we're in.

The main drawback is that there's still no land.  It's also on a main, busy road, and it has a pool.. (which is nice) but with two small kids, it's not the 'safest' house.

However, on just one income, we can cover our living expenses.  We have two incomes now, so effectively we could simply rent some vacant land to farm somewhere else.  I can have the chickens that I want at this house, and I can grow a small garden too.

Of course, we'll be looking more for land that we can buy with owner financing, rather than just renting, for our garden/microfarm.  And since we can have chickens and a garden at the house we're moving to, we'll wait on finding the extra land for a while, and use the money to build up some passive streams of income so that once the house is foreclosed, we'll at least have enough cash and income to that land either with a house on it, or build one ourselves.