Gettin’ Better

Well, last week was pretty tough!  We decided to go and look at the animal shelter for another dog.  The plan was to get another large outside dog as a companion for our Mastiff.  The reality was that we came back home with a Bichon Frise!  Hello, total 180 degree turn there.  Anyway, here are some before and after pics of “Rickey”, now re-named Theodore, or “Teddy”, as we call him:

Teddy Before his groom

Teddy after his Groom
Teddy after his Groom

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As you can see, Teddy cleaned up quite nicely!  He is a tiny bit scared, but getting better everyday.  He is getting pretty good at housetraining, and he and Fran are best friends.  We are glad to have found him!
In farm news, Jason did a great job of making some new veggie beds right in front of the house.  We are doing something called French Intensive beds, which is essentially a raised bed with no sides, a lot of compost on top, and plants will be packed in closely to help battle weeds and retain moisture.  I do have pictures, but they are out in the car and we’re under a winter storm warning and it’s just toooooo cold to go out right now!  Lol.  Jason planted about 100 onions or so.  In the coming up weeks, we will be planting spinach, peas, taters, asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots.  It’s very exciting.  I hope that I inspire at least one person to try and grow some of their own food!  It is really scary to find out where your food comes from.  Homegrown food is SO worth the effort! 
Also, in other exciting news, we got 3 peach trees, 2 plum trees, a pomegranate bush, and blackberry vines.  I am brand new to the world of orchards and fruit production, but hey, we all have to start somewhere.  I am trying to ‘plant by the Moon’, that is, plant my plants during zodiac favorable days.  Sound nutty?  Well, Jason and I both had grandfathers who did it and they always had a great garden, so why not?  You too, can find out favorable days by going to the Farmer’s Almanac website.  There are even favorable days for digging holes and weaning your kids!  Anyway, so far, so good on that. 
Well, I do promise pics on how everything’s coming really soon.
Favorite thing of the day:  CitraSolv cleaner
Made from concentrated oils in the rind of citrus fruits.  It comes as a concentrate or as a premixed formula.  It is much cheaper as the concentrate, though.  I use this for wiping down kitchen counters, cleaning floors and pet cages, and well….just about everything but cleaning glass.  If you love the smell of oranges, you will LOVE this stuff.  I buy it at Break N Bread here in town.  That is a natural food store.  You can also get it direct from CitraSolv’s website.  It contains the citrus oils, surfactants and that’s about it.  I like using it because it seems like a very natural, no-frills cleaner that really works.  Try it sometime!

A Longer Week

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Last night, as we were getting ready to go to bed, Jason called up our two other dogs (besides Fran), Hoss and Coco.  Hoss is an English Mastiff and Coco is a Toy Poodle.  We like to call them Big and Little Enis, if you will.  Yes, they are quite a pair to behold. They never came, and so Jason came back into the house, miffed.  I went outside and called Hoss and soon I heard the tinker of his collar, running up the hill behind the house.  Coco never came.  I thought he was just being a little snot, like he does sometimes.  It never in a million years occured to me that he did not come because he couldn’t.

This morning, we expected Coco to be waiting for us when we left the house.  He was not.  In the hurry of the morning (we were late) and for all of the events that have happened this week, I did not notice that I never saw his little fluffy self bounding around our legs.  We left work soon after lunch.  Coco did not come to the gate.  He is always, always waiting with Hoss at the gate.  Jason and I were now really worried.  Did he get hit by a car? Stolen? Attacked by other dogs?

We, with Hoss following us, rode to the back of our property, calling for him.  No answer.  We passed the pond and rode down to the bottom of the hill behind our house.  Hoss ran over to the small creek and took a drink.  But he didn’t come back to me.  Instead he just kindof stood there.  I knew that he had come from that direction the night before.  I had a bad feeling.  I turned my head and saw a tiny pile of fluff.  The fluff moved.  I ran to Coco.  He was laying in a small indention in the ground.  I thought at first that maybe he had fallen into a hole and broken a limb.

I asked Jason to get me a flashlight from the truck.  Coco whimpered, but could not make eye contact with me.  His breathing was rapid and weak.  I shone the LED light in his eyes.  His pupils barely responded.  Emotion took over and I knew immediately that this was really, really bad.  His limbs were almost frozen in place.  Carefully, with tears running down my face, I gathered him in a blanket.  We carried him to the house and I checked his pupils again.  Even though he could not see me, I knew that he recognized me.  We put him in the truck and as I was placing him in the seat, it occured to me that the blanket I had used for him was black, like a death shroud.  I had a sinking feeling.

I called our vet’s office to tell them we were in route.  Before we made it to the main highway, I turned around to check on him.  His pupils were dilated and he was no longer breathing.  Coco was gone.  I couldn’t catch my breath, so I had to have Jason call the vet to tell them we would not be coming.  I cried the whole way home.

We adopted Coco from an animal rescue almost 2 years ago to the date.  He was a good dog; he was Hoss’ running buddy and sleeping partner.  I know now that Hoss was not coming up to the house that night because he was trying to help his friend.  If I had thought for a nanosecond that Coco was in pain, I would have gone looking for him.

He was a poodle with the heart of a terrier.  He barked at strangers and was not afraid to nip them if they did not heed his warning.  He was an excellent ratter, by choice.  He would tear up the boxes in our storage area to get to the tiniest mouse, and he always knew when there was one around.  He loved to be petted and groomed.  You could tell that he loved a haircut by the way he pranced around…except for the day that I had to shave his ears because he had a run through the woods and got them all knotted.  That day, he hung his head in shame.

He was not one of those spoiled rotten little poodles that everyone has pictured in their mind.  He was my “ATP”.  All-Terrain Poodle.  Just like God meant poodles to really be.  Adventurous, fearless little hunters, with a heart of gold.

He loved to swim and would fetch pinecones that you threw into the lake.  That is, if Hoss didn’t get to them first.  He loved to bite the ankles of anyone daring to come too close to the kids.

I loved him for the annoying, but loving little dog that he was.   I know the Coco is up in Heaven, probably biting the angel’s ankles.  We love you.

A long week..

I’ve had a pretty tough week this week!  I’m really ready to see Friday night, crawl in bed and sleep in late Saturday morning.  I’m sure we’ve all had days like that!

I finally uploaded some new pics to share with you.  My first is entitled, “A Chicken in Every Pot” :

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This is one of the baby Silkie chicks at about 2 days old.  (Please note: No chickens were harmed in the making of these photographs)

Here is one of Fran, and even though it’s blurry, I think it’s really hilarious the way she looks, as though she’s thinking, “MMMmmmm.  Finger lickin’ good!”  Don’t worry, she didn’t do anything other than the Excited Chicken Dance.  I didn’t let her get any closer than that.

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Now the chicks are about 3.5 weeks old and I need to get pics of them.  They are mostly now feathered out and trying to fly.  Well, except for the Silkies.  Poor things look like a maribou boa gone bad.  They probably couldn’t fly if they tried.

I’m excited at the prospect of ordering my layers!  Yes, yes, that DOES mean more chickens!  My family and friends already think I’m nuts as it is for having as many birds as I do, and I’m sure I’m destined to be the ‘Crazy Bird Lady’, when I’m old.  But I digress….I am also going to get some ducks and a pair of geese (to help eat up some aquatic pond weeds). Oh yeah, and probably eventually some turkeys.  (!!!)  Ah well.

Not much else in farm news.  We’re constructing plans for my garden out front and trying to come up with plans for a cheap ‘hoop house’ for year round gardening.

 

Redneckerie

Well, this evening Jason was tearing up some stumps and accidentally ripped up our water line.  Oops!  Naturally, we didn’t have a 1″ PVC cap to fix it with, so ‘Mr. Fixit’ made a temporary plug using a piece of rubber hose connected to a ratchet, yes, a ratchet, all held together with hose clamps.  I MUST get a picture of this redneck ingenuity! Unfortunately, it’s dark right now or I’d go snap a pic and upload it.  Anyway, you know how it goes…you try to get something done and end up creating MORE work, lol.  Then, tomorrow, it’s supposed to be like 40 below zero or something so working with wet sand ought to be a blast.

Well, that’s home ownership for you! 

Anyway, I thought it would be kindof fun to give you a ‘favorites’ column here, just to highlight some of my favorite things.  I mean, if Oprah can do it, why can’t I?  So, here goes:

Favorite thing #1: microfiber cloths.

Have you tried these things?  I remember about 9 years ago, my mom and I went to a picture framing association show and they were selling these things for about 6 bucks EACH.  Now you can get them at Wal-Mart (in the auto. section) or any automotive parts store for like 12 for 5 dollars or something like that.  These things are GREAT.  Use them in place of a Swiffer cloth on your floor Swiffer duster or Wet mop.  You can stick them on your pre-existing Swiffer floor thingy (not the Wet Jet, though) just like you would a Swiffer cloth. To use it wet, just get some Simple Green or CitraSolv (another fave, I’ll rave about it later), spray a small area on your floor lightly and use your microfiber/Swiffer assembly to mop it up.  This is GREAT for touch ups in between moppings, plus you can use them about 4 times each by flipping the cloth over and readjusting it.  Then, the best part is, is that they are totally washable and reusable.  I use them for; cleaning glass, cleaning countertops and really any surface in the house, dry dusting, Swiffering, etc.  I use them in place of dishtowels sometimes as they absorb tons more liquid since they have a much greater surface area than terrycloth. I also keep one in my car for dusting the interior when I’m sitting in a line somewhere.  They are just perfect for detailing.  Because they are microfiber, they leave very, very little dust behind. 

Anyway, I think that everyone should own at least 10 of these things.  I know that you’ll enjoy them, too!

The Chicken Tractor

Well, so tonight Jason finished the ‘chicken tractor’.  I don’t have pics yet, but I do promise some.  I haven’t even put chick pics up yet, either! I hate reading a blog with no photos!  Anyhoo, a chicken tractor is a mobile chicken housing unit that you can move around as needed, i.e. when the chickens have pooped up the ground too much.  It is an A-frame little house built of recycled lumber and 1/2″ welded wire. It looks very much similar to the linked photo above.  We put in the baby chicks who are now 2 weeks old and feathering out, and the little boys immediately began sizing each other up, pecking each other and trying to ‘spur’ each other even though they don’t have any spurs to speak of.  It is really funny to watch as they flap at each other and jump around.  Of course, it wouldn’t be funny if they were actually doing damage to each other, but anyway.

So at least that’s out of the way for now.  You put 21 baby chicks in a rubbermaid tub, add some water, pine shavings, newspaper, heat and 24 hours worth of chicken poo and it tends to get pretty raunchy pretty fast.  Then, when you take them out to clean the tub, guess what?  Everyone decides to get diarrhea and get it all over themselves, so that’s lots of fun, too.  Needless to say, I was sooooooooo thankful that the chicken hut got done tonight!

Oh, I got to use an air-powered stapling gun tonight.  That was fun!  I actually managed NOT to perforate any part of my or Jason’s body with a 1.5″ long staple.  Fortunately, just for idiots like me, there is a safety feature that prevents you from doing such. Unfortunately, when I was throwing some PVC pipes and some wood moulding up on a shelf I nearly whacked Jason in the head (he went running for his safety glasses, and yes, he did wear them after that) and I did whack myself three times before I was sat on the sidelines with a finger injury.  I’m just not really good with tools and man-things and all of that.  Thank GOD knitting needles aren’t sharp!  At least I can do that without killing myself.

So today, I was browsing my new Seeds of Change catalog.  It is all organically raised seeds/plants.  Anyway it is like neo-hippie heaven.  I can’t wait to put up a hoop house (those semi-circular covered greenhouses) so I can raise veggies year round.  I think that will be lots of fun.  Oh, and work, of course.  Always work.  I am trying to come up with the best layout for my raised bed garden so that it gets maximum sun all year, esp. in winter.  I have been saving up all of my milk jugs and Coke bottles, because I am going to whack the very tops off, drill small holes along the bottom, and bury them next to my veggies.  See, that way you just fill it up with water, go along to the next bottle and you know for sure that your plants’ roots are getting watered.  It worked really well for some roses I had planted last year. So, if you have milk jugs or plastic bottles, send em my way!  :0)

Happy farming!

Happy New Year!

Hope y’all had a great new year’s eve. Jason and I, being the old farts that we are, decided to make some bonfires and sit around, doing nothing. He burned some piles down by the pond whereas I hopped on the 4 wheeler and worked for about an hour or so and dragged big limbs up to burn.

Let me let you in on a little secret girls…Diamonds ain’t a girl’s best friend. An ATV with a trailer and a chain are a girl’s best friend! I know that isn’t romantic like jewelry is, but let’s get real here. I can jump on my 4 wheeler, hook up a chain or a wagon, and do the same work that the boys do in record time. I’m sure I looked lovely in my royal blue Gallatin GopherFest shirt with my ever present doorag, and filth up to my knees, but whatever, I got the work done. Even Jason was impressed by the size of my brushpile. Anyway, the woods look a lot better now with all of that mess out of the way.

So, we burned the pile. I was donning my new Carhartt knockoff coat and my new ghettolicious silver headband/doorag thingy that my mom found in the trash, and my new sheepskin moccasins that I got for half off at Discount City. I always have to wonder if the neighbors think I’m pure white trash, but oh well!
We burned the pile till 10pm sharp and went inside. Forget staying up till midnight! I’d be regretting that for a week! Lol.

New Year’s Day I cooked a mountain of blackeyed peas in the fireplace, 4 pans of cornbread, 3 smoked chickens, sausage, and a head of cabbage. Ok, Jason gets the ‘meat cooking’ credit. I don’t do that part. We had our parents and his sister over and we had so much food left over that I am sure we’ll be eating pulled pork and chicken for the next several months.

So, today, I took the baby chicks out in the grass for a first look outside. I did have them on the deck until they all simutaneously decided to get chicken diarrhea and get it all over my clean deck. So, into the grass they went. Besides pooping, pecking, and peeping, they didn’t really do much, but what else are chickens supposed to do anyway? Then it got colder and I brought them back in. Ah yes, I forgot that we went into the woods and cut up some firewood. I didn’t get to wield the chainsaw this time, though. At least now we have enough to keep us warm for a few more weeks, and it was FREE, best of all.

Now, I am supposed to give a ‘shout out’ to Sarah, who specifically requested one and I think she deserves it for reading my boring little blog faithfully, so,

“WHAZZUP, SARAH!!!!!”

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