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Archive for the ‘Flora & Fauna’ Category

Moving along

Friday afternoon, I stopped by the property on my way home. The work crew was gone already, but I poked around a little. While I was there, I met some of the adjoining neighbors. They have huge greenhouses on their property where they raise houseplants that they wholesale to florists and such. They were super nice and said that if we would have our clearing crew clear out some of the Brazilian peppers on their side of the property line that they would be happy to pay for it. They also said that they could help us out with acquiring new plants to fill in the areas we are pulling the invasive Brazilian peppers out of.

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Then, yesterday afternoon, Andy and I went back out there to figure out where my little craft house and his tool shed will be located. We had to mark trees for removal that would be in the way of these structures. It only amounted to four large cabbage palms that needed to be taken out, and we will reuse them by replanting them towards the front of the property.

While we were there we spotted a teeny little alligator hanging out near the beginning of our driveway:

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Yesterday I talked to our builder, who said that the State Department of Environmental Health was in the process of issuing our septic permit.  As soon as possible afterwards, he will turn in the responses to all of the county’s “comments” about our building permit, and within a couple of weeks time we should be issued the final permit.

I talked to the mortgage guy too, and we are in good shape to be closing on our construction loan right around the same time, so it appears that we will finally actually start our house project around the third week of January, God willing.  It will be so great to see some progress.

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Overgrowth

This morning we went out to the hollow to clear the paths and re-stake the points that had been marked to delineate the wetland boundaries. It has been nearly two years since the wetland edges had been determined and marked and the markers are very faded. We wanted to replace the markers to make sure they can be read.Just to get through to the areas where the markers are required a lot of chopping. There was two years of growth where the paths had tried to disappear from us into the thickness of woods. Andy went ahead of me with a machete and chopped the vegetation back to make it passable.

I picked up the cuttings and cleared sticks and vines and such from the pathway and pulled out some small plants growing in the path of travel. We finally got to the upland area where the house will be built and started placing new stakes with neon orange flagging tape at each point on the edge of the wetland line. I also flagged the entire path all the way we went to make it easier for anyone that has to go back there to find their way. I found a new area of the property that we had never seen before. It was a neat wide clearing with only low vegetation and it was beautiful. Of course I forgot to take pictures of that, but I have this picture here of Andy the jungle man chopping his way through the woods.

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Today my parents were visiting for the Kennedy Space Center “Family Day” and after it was over we took them to the property to show them around. My mom had been there once before, but Dad had never seen the place so we gave him the tour. Andy heard something moving in the brush and I looked where he was pointing and spotted a Florida Box Turtle. We looked him over and he tucked himself back into his shell as tight as he could, and then we left him and went on our way. I was just so happy to find a turtle out there at the site, and especially a box turtle, as they are one of my favorites. Andy and I are thinking of tailoring our plantings around the house and near the trails that go through the property to be very tasty to turtles so that we can encourage them to feed there where we may be able to catch a glimpse of them every so often. I hope the turtle has a lot of friends and family on the site!

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Site visit

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Today Andy and I went out to visit the site of our future home as the weather was a bit cooler this morning. The paths had nearly grown over in some places over the summer growing season, so Andy cleared the way with a machete. I stopped and took some photos along the way of the beautiful wilderness out there. It is fun to go out there and try to visualize where the house will be, nestled amid the trees. Click on the photo above to be taken to the slide show of photos from earlier today.

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I was talking on the phone this afternoon with the guy from the environmental permitting solution company that we are workng with on the wetland permit that will allow us to build our house on our new property. He is a true environmentalist and was out in the woods with his machete (and cell phone) as I was talking to him today. We discussed the plans for the placement of our new home and the mitigation that will have to occur in order for us to build. If you are not aware, mitigation is when you “make up for” the wetland impacts from building by improving existing wetlands or setting aside other wetlands for perpetuity.

Anyway, I was asking him if he had a list of wetland plants that we could plant out there, and he said that he didn’t think we would need to do any planting for our mitigation, that it would be enough just to set aside land as a conservation easement and remove invasive species (like Brazilian peppers). I told him that we would still like to know of some wetland and other native plants because we WANT to use wetland plants around the house in order to keep it cohesive. My plan is that we will use native grasses and plants around the house for several reasons. Native plants are more drought and pest resistant (they actually EVOLVED to fit this environment), and the amount of time and money that we currently waste on irrigation and pest control (and mowing) could be much better spent. I want a nearly maintenance free yard with no irrigation system, no pest control; one that just looks nice and wild and free, rather than perfectly green and manicured. I want the yard to blend well with the surroundings. We have even planned a pool with a black interior surrounded by rocks and reeds so that it will look similar to the natural pond on our property.

Well, the environmental guy was floored and really happy. He said “you guys are so cool” and told me that normally he has to spend a lot of time figuring out how to get the perfect manicured green lawn in the middle of the wetlands and woods for most of their customers. He said that we were asking questions that nobody asks, and he vowed to get back to me on it. Chalk it up to our love of nature and animals, and our desire to have the house look as though it “belongs” in the landscape. I think it will be truly beautiful.

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This morning, I talked Andy in to going back out to the property to root and roam around a little, and so that I could take more pictures. He sharpened the machete, and we set out for the north part of Merritt Island to our lot. We mostly explored areas we had been through before with fairly well established trails, but when we were hiking along the back of the property we decided to cut a little path toward the interior of the lot where the grasses weren’t as thick.

We got to a clearing, and Andy started chopping a path off the clearing through the thick tall grasses. He said something to me about going slow so that we wouldn’t “meet” a pig. Well, not long after that there was a low rumble of a growl of a wild boar who we had gotten too close to, and we both started running out of there. We never saw him, but he certainly knew we were there, and warned us not to come any closer. It scared me nearly to death; my heart was pounding.

I was looking around for information on wild boars in Florida after I got home, and it turns out that we own that pig, as it occurs on our land- they are actually considered livestock. Isn’t that weird? It is legal to hunt them on private property year round, with the land owner’s permission. I don’t know what we are going to do about that pig, or others that may be out there. Perhaps we will trap them or allow someone to hunt them, but I couldn’t kill one myself. They are not exactly favorable to have on the land because they like to wallow in bodies of water, and when they do, they pee and poop in the water too. They are destructive to property due to how they uproot plants, and most importantly they can be mean. So anyway, we had an adventure. It was definitely interesting, but a bit scary.

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