A Carolina Anole

A male Carolina Anole on the back porch at Redbay Cottage.

Info on the Carolina Anole from  Galveston Texas Master Gardnersgreenanole

“When male anoles are feeling particularly aggressive, they threaten by opening and closing their large, red dewlap at will. This colorful display is typically reserved for defending territory against other male anoles or trying to entice females. Although anoles attempt to stay hidden most of the time, both from their prey and their predators, the males certainly take a lot of chances.

This gesture, by male anoles, is often accompanied by the lizards antics of bobbing up and down sort of like doing push-ups. The lizard is only trying to look tough its harmless and actually can be quite fun to watch, especially when you know how beneficial it is, dining on a variety of insects from your garden.”

Kids that stay at La Casita love to catch these guys.

Why the name Redbay Farm?

Our place Redbay Farm is not in Red Bay, Alabama.  It’s not in California.  It’s not in Ireland.  We don’t own horses.  Our place is in Swansboro, North Carolina.  So why the name Redbay?


Redbay Leaves and Fruit ( the leaves are used in cooking just like bay leaves you buy at the store)

Our forest is called Redbay Farm is named after the Redbay tree,   Persea borbonia.  We have a nice specimen in the back yard of La Casita that is currently flowering…the Redbay is an important honey tree.  The tree is also an important food source for deer and turkeys.

According to Wikpedia the Redbay is slowly dying out…” due to an invasion of redbay ambrosia beetle in the Southern United States the tree is slowly dying out. The beetle was discovered in 2002 near Savannah, Georgia and it carries a laurel wilt fungal disease that is responsible for killing Redbays. However, foresters agree the species will likely not go extinct in the southeastern U.S. since it appears to rejuvenate to some degree on its own. Additionally, there appears to be an invitro programs that have been successful in one study area in Georgia”

I picked the name Redbay for my tree farm because I love the smell of the leaves and wood. Mostly I chose the name because the die out is emblematic of the similar fate of small forest and farms.  Small forests like mine comprise about half of privately owned forests.  These forests are slowly being fragmented, developed and are repeatedly cut over.  In fact La Casita is built part of the 78 acre forest that was for sale back in the 1980’s.  At that time we were only able to afford to buy 28 acres of the forest.  Subsequently we were fortunate to be able to purchase an adjoining 10 acres in 1990 and then another separate 7 acre parcel in the mid 90’s.

La Casita was originally going to be our temporary home while we built ‘the home of our dreams’ on Redbay Farm or on Lone Cypress (our little 7 acre creek front lot currently for sale since we have no intention of ever building on it…contact our realtor Mary Rawls if interested).  However, suburban convenience and our purchase of next door Redbay Cottage in late 2012 scuttled those plans.  We became somewhat accidental vacation home owners and now I am a vacation home manager.


Range of the Redbay Tree

Since we purchased the forest in 1987 my goal has been to preserve our forest and demonstrate that such forests can be economically sustainable.  We cut the forest in 1994. Today our forest is over 20 years old and we have no intention of cutting it again in the near future.  Why?  That question leads to La Casita.

La Casita has become the mechanism I was looking for to provide regular income that is needed to sustain private forest land. Redbay Farm and La Casita are in a symbiotic relationship.  Redbay Farm absorbs about 270 tons of CO₂ per year offsetting all of our and our guests carbon footprints.  Even if we sell the 7 acre Lone Cypress parcel we’ll still be able to offer our guests a carbon neutral trip. We are fortunate that La Casita provides the revenue to pay the taxes, insurance and maintenance costs for itself as well as the overhead for all of of the parcels of property that comprise Redbay Farm.  As long as La Casita is making a profit the roar of the chipping mill, chainsaws and logging equipment won’t be disturbing our neighbors. Although I understand the economics, It is so sad to see a forest be clear cut so that wood pellets can be sent to the stoves and ovens of Europe.

So, on a very circuitous route we have established La Casita which is the only vacation home I am aware of in Swansboro where you can spend a carbon neutral vacation thanks to a little tree farm that is named after the Redbay tree.  When you stay with us you are demonstrating your devotion to the value of privately owned forests and a commitment to maintaining environmental quality.  Those perks are on top of just getting to stay in a unique little ‘near sea’ vacation house where you can watch wildlife, feed our goats see the fat hens waddling about the pasture and fall asleep as you listen to the frogs sing you a lullaby…all after a day at the beach or on the water which is only minutes from the house.

We hope to see you soon at La Castita…part of Redbay Farm (a humble little tree farm named after a humble little tree).

By the way.  If you are interested in purchasing dried leaves of the Persea Borbonia (Redbay Tree) for culinary purposes please let me know.  Its a cinch to dry a batch in my dehydrator. The price is $4.00 an ounce plus shipping and handling.  The leaves will be personally selected by me on my tree farm…Redbay Farm.

The First Egg

Earlier this year I lost my last three hens to owls and a raccoon.  Only Willy the One Eyed Rooster remains from my original flock.  Now I have 12 new hens. Two are pictured in the previous post.  The others are 5 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Barred Rocks and a little Black Cochin Banty.  They all have a house out in back of La Casita which they share with Willy and our 4 goats.  Today I heard the hen making that distinctive, I just layed an egg, sound.  Sure enough I found a nice little brown egg in the run this afternoon when I closed up the coop for the night.WilliesGirls

A Well Stocked Kitchen

Regularly guest compliment us on the La Casita kitchen.  The kitchen is not large but is very clean and well stocked.  Like many vacation homes La Casita is a place for our family to come to enjoy the country and the beaches.  Therefore, we keep a robust supply of spices, dishes and cookware.  Since we live right next door and clean the house ourselves we keep the kitchen immaculate.  For example, the stove and refrigerator are regularly pulled out so that we can clean behind them.  We take great pride in providing our guests with a clean food preparation area….which extends to the gas grill (located just feet from the kitchen door).  The gas grill is cleaned after every guest departure.

Unlike most vacation homes at La Casita we can probably find whatever gadget or gizmo you need for food preparation…we likely have it in our house or we know where it is in La Casita.  At La Casita you’ll find cookbooks, a sausage grinder, blender, mixers, a crock pot and even a food dehydrator. When you open the cabinets you’ll find new dishes, nice cookware and new stainless flatware.

We often receive reviews that say, “We were treated like family”.  We could ask for no better compliment.

Welcome to Redbay Farm

SInce I keep a journal I decided to move blogging in WordPress because of the more interactive format.  Visit my blog often.  I post at least once a week and sometimes much more often.

I like to blog about my guesthouse, La Casita and all the little things that we do to make our guests have a great relaxing vacation here in beautiful Swansboro, NC. We rent La Casita through Airbnb.  Visit my the La Casita Airbnb page to learn more about La Casita and even a little bit about me.

I also like to touch on events that are important to both visitors and residents of Swansboro.  Right now the big issue here in Swansboro is the building of a Walmart at the corner of Hammocks Beach Road and Highway 24.  Right now my tendency is to be against this move because of the location.  Already the traffic is terrible on Highway 24 between Hammocks Beach Road, Norris Town Road and Queens Creek road on school mornings (why don’t kids ride the bus anymore?)  Another light will need to be added at the Norris Town Road intersection just to let residents make a left turn.  I’ll do some research on economic impact, environmental impact, traffic flows and anticipated revenues.  I love to shop at Walmart and it would be so convenient to have one just down the road.  However, we need to be very thoughtful before moving ahead.

You can also expect me to blog about gardening, forestry, history and wildlife.

If you want to view previous posts to my journal please visit my old Redbay Farm Home page.

Thanks for visiting.

Jim Hamrick