Saturday, April 28, 2012

(DF) SPIDERS IN THE GARDEN ....natural pest control at it's finest


As you may have noticed from other posts, I REALLY don't like pesticides.  There are many reasons for my thoughts and feelings on this subject, but a deep appreciation of bugs eating my garden is certainly not one of them.  In fact, I find few things more disappointing than going to the garden and finding my beautiful veggies chewed up by bugs.  With that said, bugs are still more welcome than poison.  I will go deeper into my reasons in a future post, but for now, please trust that there are serious reasons.                                                                                                              
With the consideration of catching and smashing each and every one of the nasty little creatures by hand being less than practical, if not totally impossible, some help is needed.  This is where the spiders come in.  Yes, I did say SPIDERS. Spiders are wonderful creatures, which, with few exceptions, are harmless to humans.  They do, however, spend their lives eating relative large numbers of insects ....... insects that are not necessarily welcome guests in the garden.  Granted, spiders can't eat all the bugs that come into the garden, and they do also eat some of the beneficial insects that we would like to see more of. When you consider that pesticides don't quite kill all the bad bugs and the good ones are generally more susceptible to toxins than the pests, the spiders are certainly no worse.

Pesticides have not been used in my garden since long before I bought the place, and in the absence of toxins, bugs thrived.  At least they thrived at first.  With an ample food source, spiders soon began to come into the area.  These spiders are among a group known as wolf spiders because of their behavior of stalking their prey rather than trapping it in a web (they are also known as grass spiders).  After a few years without toxins and with the presence of plenty of food, the population of a couple of the smaller species of these spiders exploded.  As a direct result, the population of insects in the garden dropped.

The spiders in question come in several sizes ranging from a leg span of smaller than a dime to larger than the average tarantula and with a bit of color variation.  Most of the ones in my garden are small, the size of a dime or slightly larger and light colored (as shown in the picture above), though some are the darker variety.  They are seldom seen and are in fact a little hard to find during the day, but at night they are out in force.  To shine a bright flashlight on my garden at night reveals many pinpoints of light reflected from their eyes, showing that the night crew are on the job, taking care of the unwanted pests.

Thanks to these hungry predators, a garden at Daves farm is possible, and without killing off all the other creatures that are more welcome (or better yet, important to production).  Unlike pesticides, they don't kill off all the pollinators such as bees.  As evidenced by the other two pics, they also leave some of the other beneficial insects and small creatures in the garden (though you can't tell from this pic, the turtle is a baby, only the size of a quarter).  As an added bonus, they are entertaining to watch, if you are morbidly fascinated by predator/prey relationships.  Alright, I know that I am easily amused but it saves money on movie rental. 

Yes, there will be more bugs in the garden without pesticides, but I personally believe it is worth the difference in light of the dangers of pesticides.  I will go into the dangers of pesticides to humans and the environment soon, in a future post, but for now, please be kind to the spiders.  They are our garden friends.


Friday, April 27, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Saline Nasal Spray

Yes, it is still allergy season here, hard and heavy. Actually, they say that it is one of the absolute worst we have ever experienced. I have to firmly agree! Grocery stores are selling loads of fresh ginger and honey. And over-the-counter sinus medications are flying off the shelves. But the one item I hear everyone talking the most about getting to help relieve their noses and sinuses is the Saline Nasal Spray.

It's just salt water, right? That's what everyone, including doctors, says it is. That is what 'they' want you to believe. I may be mostly salt water, but there is so much more in that little squeeze bottle of salt and water. One ingredient is even listed as "not for human consumption." Now just how much more 'consumption' can you get than squirting something up your nose into your mucus membranes?!

A little over a month ago, in desperation to get relief for my sinuses and nose, I, too, purchased a bottle of this inexpensive, salty liquid, completely unaware that there was more to it than just salt and sterilized water. Not long after I used it, I had a bad reaction. I thought that was odd so I decided to look more closely at the ingredient list (I am a hopeless label reader).  Here is what I found it contained....

Benzalkonium Chloride
Disodium Phosphate
Phenylcarbinol
Monosodium Phosphate
Water

Benzalkonium Chloride - What is it and what does it do? It kills germs and is one of the effective ingredients in ...... Lysol! Let me tell you, I would NOT want to squirt Lysol up my nose! This ingredient is very dangerous. According to a Hazardous Data Sheet, Benzalkonium Chloride is corrosive to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Even worse, they strongly warn not to ever let this stuff into the environment. And we are suppose to put it into our bodies?!
Wikipedia states that Benzalkonium chloride can cause death if taken internally. Now, when I was still in school, I learned in my science classes that one of the fastest ways to get a medication into our bodies is through our mucus membranes, primarily our nose!  Wikipedia also states that a solution of 10% or more is toxic to humans, yet it is the FIRST ingredient listed on the label! It can cause swelling in the nose, which appears it could actually worsen the problem that it was being used for. And the latest scientific evidence shows that it may even cause birth defects! Just the first ingredient alone is enough to make me toss this dangerous liquid out. But wait.... I can't. It should NEVER be entered into the environment. Oh, and be careful, it may be in your eye drops, too.

Disodium Phosphate -  this is formed by mixing together sodium hydroxide and phosphoric acid. It is used in the industrial industry as a corrosion inhibitor (remember, the first ingredient is corrosive). It is used as a pesticide. It is also used as an emulsifier and a preservative. See more here. It can cause irritation of the respiratory system. Now, in a nasal spray, that doesn't make sense!!!  In one breath they say it is safe in small amounts... then in the other they say that, in its pure form, it can be toxic. It is listed on my bottle as only the second ingredient, so there is a lot of it in there. This stuff is scary, and I never realized how many things it is used in! I am going to have to look closer at the ingredients in one of my blood pressure meds, since it is also used in medications designed for excess fluid elimination. Here is the data sheet

Phenylcarbinol - aka Benzyl Alcohol - It is used to kill bacteria and is a local anesthetic. It is oxidized rapidly in healthy people, but it isn't healthy people that are reaching for the Saline Nasal Sprays. The safety of this chemical is questionable, although it doesn't appear to be as harmful as the first two mentioned.  Here is more information from Wikipedia. Personally, I prefer NOT to squirt anything up my nose that is used as a paint, lacquer, epoxy solvent!

Monosodium Phosphate - It is an acid salt found in dental products used for its enamel restoring qualities...  huh, so why is it in my nasal spray? It is also known as a laxative. It can be hard on the kidneys. In combination with other sodium phosphates, it is used as a pH buffer, which would be my guess as to why it is in nasal spray. Still, it certainly doesn't sound very safe. It can also be irritating to the respiratory tract, which, in a nasal spray, doesn't make sense!! Here is some more information about it at Livestrong.

and, for the FINAL ingredient in my little $1 bottle of Saline Nasal Spray . . . . .

Water - No where on that bottle does it say that water has been sterilized, nor even purified or distilled. It just says 'water'. It could be directly out of the tap, which is NOT something you want to put up your nose!

So, there you have it! That is what all is in your little bottle of Saline Nasal Spray. I don't know about you, but I'm not sticking that stuff up my nose again! Visit here for a little more interesting reading on the subject.


So, what to do.... make your own! Here is the simple recipe given to my family by a trusted doctor:

1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
8 oz. water (distilled or boiled - NOT tap)
Stir well until all is dissolved. Dissolves best if water is warm or hot. Let cool COMPLETELY before using! I have made it without the baking soda, but the baking soda helps with the pH of the solution. Personally, I prefer just 1/4 tsp. of baking soda, but the above is the doctor's actual recipe

And that little bottle I bought? It wasn't a total waste. It made a GREAT cleaner for my eye glasses!

(AF) Flea Market Finds

We've rolled around to the start of yet another flea market weekend and I haven't shown you the wonderful 'finds' we got last weekend. Last Friday was too cold, windy and with a threat of rain, so no one opened that day. As far as my sales went the rest of the weekend... Saturday's sales were so-so, and Sunday's were almost non-existent. But I DID get some really good deals! So I keep telling myself that the savings was worth going for.




I was sooo excited to find that 3-tier China serving plate! I have been, piece-by-piece, building that set as I find pieces at flea markets. I love roses and am setting that set aside for "girl time" occasions. It may be hard to see, but the dessert plates are the Golden Rhapsody (lily of the valley) Japan Porcelain. I have barely gotten started, but am trying to put together a set of them for mine and Dave's "Sunday Best & Special occasion" type meals. The brown 'pan' is clay and says something about Germany on the bottom. I have never seen one like it before but, I think it will be great to bake a round type of bread that I make in it. It has a tiny chip in the end of the handle, but not a problem for using. It is so unique and I fell in love with it. I do wish it could talk and tell me about its life! The tiny little bowl is thick, sturdy, and I could think of lots of uses for it. Then on the left, those 3 pieces are all part of a tea cup... one to use for brewing loose teas, which I really needed. I have 2 big bags of loose tea and it is such a hassle to try and get it all crammed into one of those mesh tea spoons. All of that together came to less than $5.

When Dave can't be there with me, I look around and tell him over the phone what new stuff is there. This time, when I told him about the manual meat slicer, he had to have it! He had been wanting one, it is really nice, and it was super cheap!


I spent a dollar on the items in the pic below. The bowl was half price. It is white glass, not sure if it is milk glass, but it is a great, small mixing bowl... good and solid. The coffee cups will be great for large hot chocolates. I am kind of nutty about coffee cups and have a never ending collection of them, seems I just keep adding to it, too. These were a quarter each. And I forgot to add in the nice China one that says "Sanka" across it that I got for a dime.



Here are two more pictures of the tea cup set so that you can see them better:



Now, I can't wait to bake Dave some bread in that wonderful clay pan and eat it together on our new little Vintage plates!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

(AF) UNUSUAL ROCKS!

Here on Anna's Farm, I find the coolest, neatest, most unusual rocks. Finding them is the only thing that keeps the enormous harvest of rocks around here, that always surpasses my veggie harvests, from being a total annoyance and frustration.


I have searched high and low, hard and heavy, but have been unable to find out any information about these types of rocks.  I would really like to know something about them .... how they were formed, the history behind them, etc. So, if you recognize them, and/or know anything about them at all, we would greatly appreciate any information you could share with us.


 Above is one Dave and I found one day while on a walk in my woods. Isn't it interesting?!


 And here are some more very unusual ones:


By looking at it sideways, can you see the 2 eyes, nose and funky looking chin?


That last one looks like a juice/milk/syrup pitcher or gravy boat from the Flintstones! It even has a flat bottom and a pour spout!

Anyone know anything about any of these rocks? We would love to know! Thanks for taking the time to look at them.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Stretching the Gardening Dollar

I had to run into our local retail store yesterday to purchase a 9-volt battery. The one in my soap making scale finally died and I just don't trust making soaps that I sell at market without measuring precisely. But oh, how I do wish there was some way to make those darned batteries last longer! Is there a precision scale that doesn't require batteries or electricity?

Okay, I am straying from my own topic. While I was in the store, I of course had to take a few minutes to see what new plants they might have gotten in in the garden section. I am on the search for a German Johnson tomato to try. They didn't have any, yet, but they did have the Bradley and the Mr. Stripey heirloom tomatoes. They look yummy and I really want to try them. I tried them last year, but our extreme heat and drought zapped them before they ever really got started, so I am going to try them again.

I also found a mini White Eggplant that looked interesting. I have yet to find an eggplant that I like, but they are so pretty that I still like growing them. I especially like the blooms.... they make a beautiful flower, even if you don't like the veggie that follows, and you can always find someone that wants the veggie part. But this one said that the skin stayed tender and it never got bitter. Wow! Those are the two things that I don't like about an eggplant. I like it when I first bite into one, but I don't like the toughness and I especially don't like the bitter whang. So I got one to try.

So.... how do I pick my plants, you might wonder? Of course, I want the most for my money ... so I fumble around all the plants to find the ones that have the most in them, especially the tomatoes as they are easiest to separate and promote new root growth.

I don't remember how much, exactly, the eggplants were, I think around $2.99. Yes, a bit much, but it is really getting too late to start them from seeds and I managed to find a pot that had 4 plants in it. So that is less than a dollar a plant, MUCH better than that price for just one annual plant! (I am hoping they separate easily. I have never tried to separate any before). Although that still sounds a bit pricey, if I can save the seeds from them (hoping they come back true), that will be the only time I purchase them. Since seeds for specialty plants run around that much, and these are already up and growing, I figure it is still a pretty good deal.

Then there were the two tomatoes. They were in the $1 plants (actually they said 98¢ but rang up at the register as $1). They were all one plant to a pot. But I was determined to find one with more than one plant, so I took my time, gently inspecting all the pots (I am sure those behind the surveillance cameras got a kick). There use to be several plants to EVERY pot, but the growers are much more careful about it now, snipping off all the excess plants (such a waste!!!) to be sure and keep those sales up, because people like me will only buy one if we can find one with several in it. Actually, I would still only buy one, but I prefer one with more if I can find it, stretching my dollar as far as it will go. And, as luck had it, I found what I was looking for on both tomatoes. Tucked away in the back, hiding up under all the larger leaves, was one of each of the two types of tomatoes with 4 plants each in them! Yea!!!


Those tomatoes look really close together and impossible to separate, but they aren't, really. You do have to separate them carefully, and you will lose some roots, but tomato plants put on new roots (further up the stem) fairly easily. As long as they have quite a bit of roots on them, it works great. Once they are separated out (may have to use a knife tip to gently help separate them), you remove any lower stems there might be (pinch them off), plant the the plants half-way or more up their stem leaving at least one leaf set above the ground, and new roots will form all along the buried portion of the stem, creating a very strong plant. So, with 4 plants in each $1 pot, that is only 25¢ per plant! I think that is pretty good!

But it gets even better. Those two tomato plants are heirlooms (Bradley and Mr. Stripey), meaning that any seeds from them will come back true. So if I can be sure to successfully save seeds from both of them (assuming the heat doesn't get them again), I will not have to purchase this variety of tomatoes again. I will have all the future tomatoes of these varieties for as long as I garden, for just $2. The plants are already up, growing good, and even better, their cost is much less than the price of a package of seeds. *whew... takes a breath*  So, where some people might see three plants sitting there in that pic, I see not only a full row, but many, many future rows full!  And to carry this one final step further, my savings will be even greater if, at some future date, I can swap seeds from these for seeds of varieties I don't have. What a wonderful bounty!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

(DF) GARDEN DAY RAMBLINGS (part 3) ....... mosquitoes in the grass

       "We must take care, old chum.  Great hoards of voracious, flying creatures may well drain our bodies of life giving fluid, leaving little more than  mere husks of our former selves, to be blown about like leaves in the wind."

                            from 'Pickery Hudson on Mosquitoes and Gnats'


For several years, I have found that there seem to be more mosquitoes here than I consider reasonable, considering there is no swamp or large body of water nearby.  The closest such body of water would be my neighbor's pond a few hundred yards away and this time of year, the evening breeze tends to move them in another direction.  This was a bit of a puzzler for a while, until I did a bit of research and found that the prevalent species of mosquito that plagues me can actually raise in patches of damp, tall grass.

Anyone who has seen this place in summer in recent years can vouch that I tend to be negligent when it comes to cutting the grass.  In fact, most often, it gets quite tall before I cut it with a scythe and let it cure for goat hay.  No need wasting perfectly good hay, right?

Most years the mosquitoes, though plentiful, are somewhat tolerable, so the trade off is worth it.  This year, however, the mosquito population has exploded to a proportion comparable to that of any swamp or river bottom.  In fact, the last time I encountered such a huge number of loud, hard biting mosquitoes was when I camped out on a little backwater in the Mississippi river valley in July a few years ago. 

Mosquito numbers of this level tend to take the fun out of gardening.  Alright, they don't take out all the fun, but one does begin to wonder how much blood loss it takes before you get weak and light headed, and the fact that they are so intent on getting in eyes and ears adds to the problem.

As I worked in the garden, fought mosquitoes and certainly looked quite insane and hilarious to any onlookers, with my swatting, flailing of arms and slapping myself about the head and neck, I couldn't help wondering what could be done about this nuisance.  Before figuring out what to do about such things, I needed to know where they were coming from in the first place.  Lets face it, if they were coming from the neighbor's pond, it would be most un-neighborly of me to start putting insecticide in the pond where his cattle drink.

A few of the day lilies
After a few days of pondering and fighting these nasty creatures, I figured out where they are coming from.  Years ago, a sparse row of day lilies was planted along the south end of the garden.  Yes, it is the same day lilies that I mentioned spreading in part 2 of this post.  This spring has been ideal for the lush, moist, green growth of these wonderful flowers, which have over the years, spread and thickened into an absolutely impenetrable mass of vegetation.  Upon inspection, I found that underneath this mat of green was a wonderfully wet place, perfect for mosquitoes and other water loving creatures (even toads and smaller types of frogs) to reproduce.

Now the question becomes one of what to do about them.  My first thought was to cut down the day lilies, a thought which horrified Anna, and on second thought would be a little extreme (though we don't need so many of them).  Diatomaceous earth would probably do the trick but, as with anything else that would kill them, there is the problem of how to get it through the vegetation.  I am absolutely against the use of commercial insecticides as a matter of personal ethics and respect for the earth.  Anna has done a bit of research on natural pesticides and came up with an oil emulsion based possibility that we will be trying, hoping the oil emulsion will follow the leaves to the ground below.  We will certainly let you know how it works.  Any ideas or experiences you can share will also be very much appreciated. 

Stay tuned for a mosquito update, and good luck with your own pests.

(AF) Mind Boggling COOL!!!!



Over the years, junk no-longer-needed things really starts to accumulate. As our needs change, and kids grow up and move out, there becomes many, many things that we no longer need. Recently I decided it was time to do some drastic culling. I have barely begun, but already it is proving to be a far bigger undertaking than I imagined.

And it is extremely emotionally difficult. There is such a multitude of things I must get rid of, but the memories attached to much of it REALLY makes it difficult to part with things. Now, I do have my 'keepsakes that I would never let go of.  But then there are the things that there just isn't any logical reason to keep, not even as a keepsake. Yet they are still difficult to let go of because just looking at them brings back fond memories that makes you smile. One thing I have been doing, though, is taking pictures of these types of items before I let go of them. It really helps.

Today was Flea Market day and I had gathered a box of more junk nice stuff to take with me today. For weeks I had been trying to bring myself to take my kids' old plastic divided plates to the market, and each week when I'd start to pack them, great memories of all my kids' meals on them would come to mind, bring a warm smile to my face, and they would never make it to the flea market. (6 plates - each child had their own color - they loved eating out of them and it solved two problems, fights over favorite plates and different foods 'touching' each other)  But today... I decided that today was going to be the day they left.

A little more FYI to make it easier to understand. One thing I am aggressively doing is eliminating as many culinary plastics from my life as possible and replacing with glass, stainless steel, ceramic, etc. The more I learn about the dangers of consuming foods off of/stored in plastics, the more I want to get rid of them ALL.So this morning, as I was placing the divided plates into the box, I kept thinking how nice it would be to find some that were made out of stainless steel. I didn't know if there was such a thing, but for some uses (such as BBQs) I still liked the big, rectangular, divided plates. And I just kept thinking about how nice it would be to find some made of stainless steel, if there was such a thing.

WOW!!! At the flea market today, not long before I left. I went to drool over dreamily look at a vintage meat slicer one more time, when I realized it was sitting on top of 5 rectangular, stainless steel divided plates!!  Even better, they were so heavy (old army plates), the woman didn't want to keep moving them around and was selling them for $3 for all of them together. Yep, broke or not, I had to get them. It was obviously meant to be, today. My plates still haven't sold yet, but they are at my set-up now, and not coming back home.


Dusty always goes with me to the flea market. Big Bubba is way too big now to sit all day at the flea market in my portable puppy crate, but I didn't want to leave him at the mercy of the cats home by himself all day, either, so I decided to try and take him loose, too. When we started to leave, he ran right out the door with us and right on into the car. It turned out that I didn't have to worry about him running around at the flea market. He stayed close to my side all day. Every time he ventured a few feet then got a little nervous or insecure, he came back and sat on his favorite blankie next to me. And every time I walked away for a moment, he walked right along side me. He is such a loyal dog already! Several people were interested in him, but they either couldn't afford a dog, already had too many, REALLY wanted him but wife wouldn't let him, lived where dogs weren't allowed, etc. Big Bubba had a great time playing with all the kids that came through today and once he adjusted to the different surroundings, he had a blast romping and playing with Dusty and Zoie (the flea market Boxer).


And by the end of the day..... Big Bubba was one pooped puppy!


Friday, April 20, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Garlic as an Antibiotic

As I stated in my last post, I am devoting April to remedies associated with sinus ails. I, myself, am still battling my extreme sinus infection, but I seem to be making considerable headway. The prescription antibiotics did not work. But the natural remedies seem to be helping considerably. To be fair, I have to admit that I am also taking an allergy medication, but I was taking that before, too, when nothing seemed to be working.

Since the prescription antibiotics didn't seem to do anything for my sinus infection (but did do damage to my body), I decided to go natural there, as well. And the best natural antibiotic that I know of is GARLIC (if you know of others, I would like to hear about them.)

I am talking about FRESH garlic, not the powdered nor that minced stuff you see canned in a jar that has been setting on the store shelf for no telling how long. To get your fresh garlic to reach its strongest antibiotic effect, thinly slice, chop or crush it, let it stand a few minutes .... then consume (raw - the more you cook it, the lower its antibiotic properties). The active antibiotic ingredient in garlic is Allicin. Allicin is released when you cut into a fresh clove of garlic. Once you cut/chop up that clove of garlic and let it stand a few minutes, the allicin level rises.

Although prescription antibiotics kill only a small range of bacteria and germs, garlic has been shown to be a broad spectrum antibiotic that kills a broad range of bacteria, possibly the broadest range of any antimicrobial known. And even better, bacteria doesn't ever become resistant to it. As an added bonus, garlic also kills off many kinds of molds, parasites, viruses and fungi .... all things that can contribute to sinus infections and irritations.

HERE is some more wonderful, detailed information about Garlic,  its antibiotic uses, and how to use it.

Is all fresh garlic the same?  NO 

There are two main types of garlic... hardneck and softneck. Visit HERE for a great explanation of the differences in their appearances.

Softneck garlic is the most common seen in the grocery stores. It is much easier to grow, is more productive and has a longer shelf life. It is recognizable by the soft, easily bendable stem in the middle, along with the papery outer covering and its many cloves (often in several layers). It is also easier to braid.

Hardneck garlic  has a hard stem in the middle, has fewer, larger cloves, a thinner outer covering (sometimes none at all), and grows scapes (stalks), topped with bubils, up through its middle.

I have always read that the Hardneck Garlic had the absolute strongest antibiotic properties. Personally, I have had better luck with it. But today, I  have spent hours on end trying to 'officially' find documentation of this to link to, and have yet to find it. So I am now going to step away from my computer for a spell, rest my eyes and try again later. I look forward to hearing any additional info you might have on this subject.

MORE great info about how wonderful garlic is as a natural antibiotic.



Thursday, April 19, 2012

(AF) A TALE OF TAILS


No one wants me 'cause I have a tail.
 I have one puppy left (Big Bubba). Setting aside our ever declining, horrible economy slowing down calls for puppies (I use to have a waiting list), the biggest reason I am having such a hard time selling them this year (and the vet warned me this would happen) is that I chose NOT to mutilate them by having their tails amputated. There is absolutely NO need to put them through that!

The views of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) run right along with mine. You can read what they have to say about it here.

Currently there is only one reason for docking a puppy's tail (or having their dew claws removed, for that matter), and that is for cosmetic purposes. But there are such a multitude of reasons to NOT dock their tails, that I could never list them here in just one little post, but I will name a few.

When I started out raising Boxers, I always took them to the vet to have their tails docked and their dew claws removed. I was told I wouldn't be able to sell them otherwise. Since I make sure my puppies are the strongest and healthiest possible, in every way, I took them to the vet to have the procedure done. Everyone kept telling me how (simple) it was to do-it-yourself, but that seemed even more cruel, it is an actual amputation, and I wanted to leave no room for problems.

But problems did arise. Even though the tails were stitched, they often popped open, bled more, and looked pretty bad, sometimes exposing a bit of bone. Often times, infection set in, especially into where the dew claws were removed. Those infections are very difficult to fight and, over time, I ended up losing several puppies as infection traveled up the foot, through the leg and into the body/heart .... an infection that no antibiotics seemed to be helping. This was heart wrenchingly sad for me, the momma dog, and especially the puppy. Watching a puppy going through this - an elective, unnecessary procedure done strictly because someone thinks it looks 'cool' - is horrifying!

Then there is the pain issue. They say it doesn't hurt them, they are too little. But it does hurt! (even in the womb, a person/animal feels pain, that has been proven) Each time I sat there in that vet's office, as the tails were being 'done', I was horrified at the sounds I heard coming from down the hall and a few rooms away. There is no describing the agonizing yelps and yipes those tiny puppies made. It hurt them... and it hurt them BAD!!!  And to hear the obvious pain they were in, hurt me to my very core, physically and emotionally. I couldn't believe I was doing this to these poor tiny babies, simply because I had succumbed to societies vain dictates.

The puppies cried, and cried HARD. They WERE in pain! Then there was the momma back at home, frantically wondering where her babies went. Once back home, SHE was horrified at what had happened to her babies! She would try to 'lick' and comfort them, but it hurt them for her to lick their tail, which upset her further. The 'removal' experience was so stressful for some puppies, that just the shock of it killed them. Some puppies were so stressed that, even though they had been eager nursers before, they completely quit eating and either died or were weakened when they had to be force fed. Then there is the bowel issue. A momma dog 'licks' her puppy's hinney to stimulate them to go to the bathroom. After the tails have been amputated and she tries to do this, it hurts them, they cry, and she stops. This often results in them not being able to go poopey, they bloat up, and, once again, sometimes die, or at least, interferes with their development. All this suffering simply for people's vanity!!!

At the sight of the amputation, often times, the hair doesn't grow back, or at best, not fully. And the stub end always stays tender. I also have no doubt but that arthritis sets in as many of these dogs age. I mean, this IS part of their spine, and anyone that has ever had a spinal injury can attest to how painful the arthritis can get.  I, myself, can definitely vouch for that!

Then there is the set-back issue. Yes, this procedure shocks their tiny little bodies! It is an amputation, they are AWAKE and it puts an extreme stress on their bodies, which takes time for them to recover from. These puppies are only a few days old, at a critical stage of fast growth, and it drastically slows that down... temporarily halting, and even reversing, development (physically, mentally and emotionally). But if this procedure is always performed, there is nothing to compare what their actual growth and development could actually be.

So for this current litter of puppies, I decided my puppies would KEEP their toes and tails. With the agonizing sounds of the last litter still echoing through my head, and the heart wrenching pain I still feel just thinking back to the heart breaking suffering of the ones that slowly died of infection, I just couldn't do this cruel, unnecessary, torturous procedure to even one more puppy.

The 'procedure' is usually done between 3 to 5 days old. I knew it appeared to have set them back quite a bit, but I didn't realize just how much until I had a litter I didn't have the amputations done on. Even at just one week old, the puppies were making advances that amazed me. By two weeks, they were doing things that they never did before until they were 3 to 4 weeks old. They grew faster, they walked sooner (MUCH sooner), they played and interacted sooner, they barked sooner, they 'guarded' sooner, they were able to eat solid food sooner (and desired it sooner). These puppies advanced soooo much faster it was mind boggling!!!  But no would would know that if they had never had both types of litters for the comparison. I have told people this, but many don't seem to care. Many are so adamant about wanting a dog to look a certain way that they don't care what it does to the health and longevity of the dog. But those aren't the types of people I want to own one of my dogs anyway.

Many countries have wised up and banned this mutilating procedure from being done on dogs. But the US has yet to see past the vanity to the suffering of the dogs and ban it here. Many people here are totally unaware as to what a horrible procedure this is to put a puppy through, and the lasting affects it can have on a grown dog. They have been 'conditioned' by society to believe that it is harmless and painless. I hope and pray that those people can soon be educated and properly informed, as many of them would change their opinions and help to stop this practice. But then there are those that are so vain, that they don't give a d$%# about what the puppy/dog has to go through so long as they get to own a dog that 'looks cool.' And I would never want to sell one of my puppies to one of those people anyway.

I put my all into my puppies. I begin by making sure my parent dogs have the best possible diet and are in the best of health before they breed. This continues all throughout the pregnancy, to ensure the best of health of the puppies and the mother dog. After the puppies are born, I supplement with colostrum and quality puppy formula, as needed (like when there are too many for her to make quite enough milk), while increasing the momma's milk production, food and nutrition needs. I pride myself in having the strongest, healthiest, smartest, best quality puppies a person could possibly raise. So it greatly saddens (and angers) me when someone is all excited about finally finding the Boxer puppy they were looking for, then refuses it simply because it still has its tail. One man became absolutely irate and obviously furious when he learned that they still had their tails. His attitude let me know that he WAS NOT  someone that I wanted owning one of my dogs.

I take great pains with my puppies to ensure that they are the healthiest possible, and that includes leaving their tails on. If people want one of my beautiful, high quality puppies, they will have to have them with their beautiful, adorable, graceful tails on. (One woman that was initially disappointed that they had their tails, changed her mind when she saw it. She said, "It is so cute! How could anyone ever cut that off!) Their tails are adorable, and they do serve many purposes. They are very useful in chasing flies and other insects away (insects which can cause a dog a variety of ills). A dog also communicates with you through their tail. When they are happy and healthy, their tail curls ever so slightly over their back and gracefully sways back and forth. But when they are sad or hurt, it hangs down and/or tucks under, depending upon what is wrong. This is a VERY USEFUL trait for the owner, as it is often times the FIRST sign that something is wrong with your dog. And we all know, the sooner a dog can be treated, the faster and more successfully it can be healed. When they sense danger, it straightens out, which is also very useful for us to know.
If, in the future, it becomes impossible to sell my Boxer puppies because I have chosen NOT to torture them by putting them through such a needless, painful, quality reducing procedure, I will have to quit raising Boxers, because it just ain't right.

Oh, yes, these puppies bonded to people faster and stronger than any others, becoming more loyal and eager to please than I have seen yet. And I would hope, that is the ultimate a person wants in a dog.

(AF) REMEMBERING A GREAT

I know that this post isn't quite related to the subject matter of this blog, but I have to make this post anyway, and pay my respects.
I just learned that Dick Clark (Host of American Bandstand) passed away yesterday (Wednesday, April 18, 2012). To say that this makes me sad is an understatement. He and his show were a VERY bright spot in my life as I grew up.

As a child, no matter how bad things got throughout the week, I always looked forward to the upbeat, feel good, dance-it-off, American Bandstand show. I adored music, and I loved to dance (I still do). And each week, I looked forward to clearing out my little space in our tiny little living room, turning on the TV, and dancing away all my stresses of the week to the peppy, cheery, songs of American Bandstand. I actually had to "turn" the nob on the TV, and the show was in black & white, but I was so happy I got to see/hear/dance to the the show that none of that mattered. I loved seeing all the new artists, and even more, I loved hearing all the new songs. But the very best part, was getting to cut loose and dance to them all! What a great therapy that was! Often times, it was one of the very things that helped me keep my sanity in a rough world. I couldn't imagine having gone through my childhood without it.

So I would like to say, in all sincerity ... and from the very bottom of my heart.... THANK YOU DICK CLARK!  Rest peacefully now. My deepest sympathies to your family and loved ones.


To all of our readers: Life is so very precious. You just never know when someone that is with you one moment, might be unexpectedly and instantly gone the next. And things like this sadly bring that into perspective. We take far too much for granted, and worry about far too many little things.... though to different degrees, we are all guilty of it. So, whether it is as a tribute to Mr. Clark, or to someone that was dear to you, or as a comfort to you, or just because you feel you should.... slow down a step today, and take a moment to give someone close to you a hug and tell them you love them - someone that you haven't lately or as often as you think you should have been (or if you are one like me and don't see another human for days, hug one of your critters, tell them you love them, then tell someone by phone, computer, etc. how much you care.) It will make you BOTH feel warm and good.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

(DF) GARDEN DAY RAMBLINGS (part 2) ....... machine age farming, or not

While I was working in the garden over the weekend, and considering the "weeds" I talked about in part one of this post, my thoughts managed to wander a bit farther astray, to the consideration of how the garden got in such a mess in the first place. My father (if he were still alive) would not be happy with my considerations but, like it or not, things are what they are.

At this point, I will pause from my ramblings to give a little background, as this post actually begins many years ago. My father was the first "machine age farmer" in the family, buying a tractor when he was a young man and tractors were not common place. His father, on the other hand, was quite an excellent farmer but not at all a "machine age farmer". He worked with a team of draft horses for as long as he was able to farm. My grandparents always had a wonderful, rather large garden which was plowed using the team and cultivated using garden hoes, and sometimes, grandchildren. It was in that garden, by the way, that I learned to plow with horses, but that is a tale for another time.

Enough background for now, so it's back to the ramblings and the garden at hand. My place was purchased from my parents who acquired it about forty years ago and lived here for a few years. When they bought the property, the garden was already here, though it had not been worked enough years to be fully established (such things take time and work). However, it was a reasonably good garden and quickly became quite productive. There were a few small patches of Johnson grass scattered here and there which had to be kept in check, but nothing serious, just a minor annoyance. Then dad got a good deal on a garden tiller, which he was convinced would cut garden time in half and up production.

Early in the spring, I was set to the task of working up the garden with said garden tiller. The garden was normally plowed with a tractor, but this was supposed to be a better machine for the job. After about a half day of hard work, the garden was worked up, my hands and arms were numb from the vibration and my nerves were jangled from the incessant roar of the engine. This was, as I say, early in the spring and at planting time, we covered the surface with compost and I tilled it in. It looked great. The perfectly straight rows were laid off, a bit farther apart than usual, to accommodate the tiller, and the garden was planted. By the time the garden seeds had sprouted and grown large enough to be worked, the entire garden (no longer small patches) was showing a good stand of Johnson grass. Back to the garden with the tiller, and soon it all looked good again. This theme was repeated continually through the summer until the first hard freeze killed everything in the garden.

Springtime came around and this time, the garden looked more like a hay meadow. More tilling and something that resembled a garden was made, but with more effort than the previous year. Within five years, my mother had made a small kitchen garden near the back door which she refused to allow the tiller near.

Please don't misunderstand, I am not really against all farm machines under all circumstances. In some types of soil, garden tillers are quite effective, and depending on the physical condition of the gardener, they are sometimes necessary. Though I don't own a tiller, I do own an old, rusty tractor which works well and I use for many things here on the farm. In fact, the garden has been plowed with it several times in the interest of working the soil deep enough to make it possible to reclaim it as a garden (it had not been used as a garden for quite a few years because of the Johnson grass). Plowing with a tractor is preferable to using a tiller, in my opinion, though the plow will move things around a bit. One plant item in particular, the day lilies at the south end of the garden (which figure heavily into a future post), are no longer just at the south end, thanks to roots being carried by the plow. Now they are along the west side, at the north end and scattered here and there in the middle.

My preference for working the garden up with a shovel and hoe are not only considerations of weeds and such. There are always considerations of fuel and repair parts. There are even environmental considerations. There is also the fact that my gardening method of deeply dug beds, doesn't work well with machines. But for me, there is also the rather large and important consideration of peacefully working the soil, as it has been worked for thousands of years, with the sounds of nature and tools working the earth, and the smells of fresh, damp garden dirt. Besides, it lets my mind wander much better than working with machines.

For those who ARE "machine age farmers", there is nothing wrong with that. This IS the machine age, after all. I am just really grateful that there is still room in this fast paced machine world for those of us who choose a less mechanized way.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

(DF) GARDEN DAY RAMBLINGS (part 1) ....... what to do about weeds

Ok, it is actually garden weekend ramblings, but you know what I mean. With my new job, my schedule has been 9am to 6pm, five days a week, which has been leaving me with just enough time before dark to take care of the goats and chickens. This leaves me the weekends to catch up on all the necessary everyday maintenance type stuff that there wasn't time for all week. However, middle of last week that changed. My daily shift became 6am to 3pm, which leaves me some time to get things done of the evening........ sure hope this change lasts. My days off vary week to week but who cares, it is time to work at home.

With my new schedule, I managed to get things caught up a bit in preparation for Sunday and Monday off. The Saturday evening storms threatened to change plans but there was still hope. Sure enough, there wasn't anything one could consider a storm here at dave's farm, just a moderate wind and some relatively gentle rain. At this point, I will shift focus a bit to storms nearby, but please bear with me.

As I was saying, there wasn't a storm here, the closest thing being low thunder in the distance. On the other hand, one of my co-workers who lives less than twenty miles away, had a tornado touch down. It destroyed his barn, commercial chicken house, lots of timber and landscape trees and took the roof off his house. I found out today that while I was being grateful that the storms had missed, he was beginning to sort through the devastation. Just shows how strange and erratic the weather can be and gives pause to reflect. Please remember my co-worker in your thoughts and prayers, he needs all the help he can get.

Now, back to my ramblings. Sunday started calm with intermittent light rain and a trip to town to pick up dog food (which I didn't think I was out of until time to feed the little dog, Poopei). The weather cleared while I was gone and I proceeded to dig up the garden, as soon as I got back, to play catch up on planting. I had already planted tomatoes and peppers a couple of days before (though there are still tomatoes and cabbage that aren't quite big enough to transplant) so now it was time to start on the main garden. Grass and weeds had pretty much taken over already, so I would have to take care of that.

When I am working at something, especially when it is quiet and in nature, I tend to let my mind wander a bit ........ alright, more than a bit, and left without proper supervision, it sometimes goes some unusual places. This time, it only turned to thoughts of weeds, and of course, questions. We all know what weeds are, and where to find them, and hopefully some earth friendly ways to deal with them. But, what are weeds REALLY? Obviously, they are things we don't want in our gardens, right? NOT SO FAST WITH THE WEED KILLER!!!!!!

Looking at the "weeds" in my garden, there were a variety of edible plants that I grew up with, some of which Anna mentioned in today's "Tightwad Tuesday" post. In fact there were at least nine of the dozen or more plants I grew up picking as wild greens. Some of these (and a few others growing among them in my garden) also have some medicinal properties. As Anna said, free food and medicine. Doesn't sound like weeds to me, in fact, I took time to harvest some of them before I got under way.

Now, as for the ones that don't count as food or medicine (at least not that I know of) there was the question of what best to do with them. Before I move forward with this, let me say that I DO NOT advocate the use of herbicides, especially in the garden. In my mind, it is like setting booby traps for home defense without knowing who or what will get killed in the process. They kill types of plants, not individual species and it has, so far, been impossible to convince me that they are safe for the environment. I must be careful with this subject so I don't get on my soap box and over react. Sorry! seems I already got on the soap box.

At any rate, as my thoughts wandered on this subject, it occurred to me that there is no real problem with weeds in the garden and that they actually belong there. The problem is that no body wants them actually GROWING in the garden. If they are not growing, this means they are dead and dead weeds make compost. Compost is a good thing in the garden and since different plants incorporate different nutrients from the soil, what better way to get rid of them than to dig them back into the garden.

Some grasses are not so easy (in my garden, it is Johnson grass). Johnson grass spreads from the roots as well as seed. The roots are segmented and each segment will grow an new plant. Anything that breaks up the roots will spread the grass and soon it can look more like a hay meadow. More tilling means more spreading and this is where many people reach for the poison, and continue with the roto-tiller. I will try not to say too much against garden machines in this post as it deserves a full post of its own (likely a second part of this post so stay tuned). Point being that there are other ways to deal with this nuisance. The best way I have found, is to work the ground with hand tools and pull out every root you find. Each new shoot that sticks its head up can be easily pulled or cut with a hoe (which is the equivalent of grazing, which this grass does not tolerate well). The blades themselves can be dug into the soil or used as mulch with no problem. Soon it is under control.

Bermuda grass is another story, as the grass itself will take root if in contact with moist soil, even after it looks dead. In other words, if you dig it into the soil, you have spread it, so the only way to remove it without poison, is to dig it up and remove it from the garden completely.

I know it sounds like I was doing more thinking than working, but in the midst of it all, on Sunday afternoon and Monday, I did get quite a few onions planted as well as some cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, green beans and carrots (Anna got a bit carried away buying onion sets and plants, but if they do well, we will have plenty of onions this winter).

Sorry about the lack of pictures, but if my camera will work (if the batteries are strong enough and I can remember to use it, that is) I will try to post a few with part 2, where I will be talking about machine age farming and such. Hope to see you there.

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Free Groceries!

Gosh, where to begin.... No matter what country you are reading this from, I am sure that your groceries are growing more and more frustratingly expensive by the day, literally! We sort through the ads, clip coupons, make up our lists, total and tally, chop things off of our lists, groan and grumble, re-figure, head for the store, then grumble some more as we see that many items are even more expensive than they were the last trip, then even more, from our already skimpy list, must be cut. Are you relating yet?

Fresh produce seems to be one of the hardest (next to meat). The prices go up higher and higher with each and every trip to the store, yet the quality seems to be drastically dropping. (example: those grapefruits seem to be the size the oranges once were, and the oranges are now the size I once remembered lemons). And often, we find the produce limp and brownish. Yet they are asking for more money than ever for the stuff we once threw in the trash.

But often times, as we walk across the yard to our car, we often neglect to notice the wealth of produce all around us, right in our own yard, right under our feet, as we are leaving to go spend money purchasing the over-priced,. less than adequate *a-hem* produce at the market.

A couple of summers ago,  I learned that the Lamb's Quarters (wild spinach) growing abundantly in my yard was edible. Not only edible, but contained far more nutrients than grocery store spinach, so I decided to try it. It was delicious!!! Gosh, have I ever been missing out all these years!! It is now a staple food in my diet and I freeze and dry some to use all winter. I can't imagine not having it in my kitchen stock, now. And it is FREE

I have enjoyed the Lamb's Quarters so much, that I decided to research, investigate, and learn as much as I could about other wild edibles that might be growing in my yard. I was amazed at the nutrition levels in many of them! I have really been missing out on some excellent, nutritious foods. Plus, many of them have such a wealth of medicinal properties, that, not only would they save me lots of money on medications, but heal many ills without the side effects of chemical drugs.

So over the past couple of weeks, I have spent some time wandering about my yard to see what all "free veggies" and "free meds" I have right at my feet. I can't believe what I have been overlooking! Worst of all, I can't believe that years ago, I was spraying them with weed killer to try and get the grass to grow! What a waste!! I am definitely going to try some more of these free edibles this season to see what else I have been missing out on and how much money they can save me off of my grocery bill. Dave and I each have different knowledge of different plants, so between the two of us, I am sure we can come up with a multitude of healthy, money saving uses.

Here is just a small sampling of the many wonderful wild edibles I have found in my yard.

Wild Jerusalem Artichokes

Yellow Dock
Wild Lettuce-Prickly lettuce
Wild Onions (and Henbit)-my mom's yard- trying to get the onions started in mine.

Chickweed (left) & Henbit (right)



We have been told this is Wild Lettuce-would love to know more if you know about this one.
Polk Greens (tall stuff in back)

Clevers

Wild Grapes and Honeysuckle

Lamb's Quarters

Much more Lambs Quarters

Mullein


HAPPY WILD SHOPPING!!!

(AF) Storms Weren't Bad Here

I could complain because I did so much storm preparing for nothing, but it really wasn't for nothing. Although the storms weren't near so bad here as they predicted they might be, it was good to have the preparation practice. It REALLY let me know that I am not near ready for a disaster the size that that one could have been. It also got me to thinking that not only do I need to get a bug-out bag put together, instead of just talking about it, but it got me to thinking that, besides one for on-the-go, putting one together in something that is totally waterproof and burying it somewhere close might not be a bad idea. Without a storm cellar, if everything got blown away, I would have several days' worth of supplies safe and sound (so long as I could find where a shovel blew away to.

We did get some storms, but they didn't come in until Sunday morning (once again, just in time to close the flea market, so NO sales all weekend - nor all week for that matter). We had a couple of good, old-fashioned, stormy rounds ... lots of noise, flashing and wind ... a couple of brief, heavy downpours.... but nothing really serious. Then it was periodic small showers throughout the day, all totaling a little over half an inch of rain. It was what I called 'garden planting' storms.... plant a little, rain it in, plant a little, rain it in . . .  In my neck of the woods, it was actually just exactly what we needed. And Dave got even less. As bad as it was in other parts of Oklahoma, we were really very blessed, here!

I actually got to spend quite a bit of time out in the yard in the later afternoon and evening. It was wonderful! The air was so crisp and fresh after the rain. And the fragrance of the fresh rain, mingled with the scent of the damp earth and the strong aroma of the very stirred up wild roses across the road was absolutely intoxicating!!! It's the rainbow after the storm that only your nose can appreciate. And I savored every moment of it as I set out a few tomato and hot pepper plants. I just had to get out and dig in the damp dirt for awhile the moment the storms passed, yet the hearty rumbles of thunder could still be heard.

Just as it was getting dark, my phone rang. It was someone wanting to take Little Rover (aka Honey, cause he is the color of honey and just as sweet) to his new, Forever Home. He will have a great new home, and have a teenage boy to romp, rough house, and play with, but oh, how me, Dusty, Bubba, and Clyde (one of that cats) miss him!!! Bubba has cried more than me, even, and he has tried every way he could to get the cats to play with him, but they slapped him too hard and he had to play with Dusty instead. (Clyde with snuggle at sleep time, but not rough house) My Honey (which is what I ended up calling him the most) seemed to be pretty sad about leaving, too, but I am sure he will adjust to his new family very quickly and have lots and lots of fun. And I will fondly smile each and every time I put on my work pants that are full of tooth holes around the ankles from his and Bubba's energetically rambunctious play. Best of all,  Honey, and the boy that wanted him, were my angels .... literally the answers to my prayers this weekend. Just in the nick of time, it gave me exactly what I needed to pay a bill that would have been disastrous if even a few more hours had gone by.  Honey will always hold an extra special place in  my heart. He is truly my angel! 


Saturday, April 14, 2012

(AF) Saturday Ramblings

Today is one of those days where you start out in one direction, but suddenly your direction gets changed and you just veer over and flow with it without missing a beat. The storms aren't suppose to be moving in until later this evening, so I decided to go ahead and set up at the flea market for a few hours. I got up, did my morning chores, changed my clothes, got the puppies down for their nap, filled up the fluids in the car (yep, it's getting old),  then Dusty and I headed for the flea market.

I wasn't half a mile from my house when sprinkles began to appear on my windshield. I was really hoping it was a flock of birds passing over, but of course, it wasn't. So I really hoped it was just a passing cloud and would stop as quickly as it appeared. But it didn't. The further I went, the heavier it came down until I had my wipers cranked up several notches. By the time I reached the first town (flea market is 2 towns away) I had decided I probably wasn't going to get to open after all. I called out there and sure enough, the ones that were already there were closing up and heading home.  So I decided to take advantage of the unexpected 'free time' and walk around browsing at a couple of stores. I am always running in for what I need and right back out, with very little 'browse' time.

I decided to first head downtown and stop in at the Farmer's Market to see if they had any Blackberry Mint. I have been looking for some for a couple of years and can't find any. I love that stuff!  But as I got into downtown, I realized that was a HUGE mistake. They were getting ready to start our biggest parade of the year - the one celebrating our annual Azalea Festival.(beautiful pics here)  So I decided real quick I needed to turn around and head back for the East Side of town. But with every turn I made, they were just blocking that street, the streets were thickly packed with masses of people toting umbrellas, kids and blankets, and I seemed to be trapped in downtown! Finally, a police officer on a bicycle stopped to see what my frustrated look was about. I said that I was trying to get OUT of downtown. He had me wait a moment while he directed some people across, then escorted me out. What a relief! But geez... I went from heading out to open up at the flea market, to needing a police escort!!!

Then I went to see if the bread store had in any of their 'feed' bread. Turned out I wasn't the only one stopping in for the same thing. But we were all out of luck.... they were totally out. I thought I was going to "cheat" and get a cupcake. But I looked at the price and changed my mind. The last time I bought one in there it was about 35cents. They are now 90 cents each and that is for day old! I didn't need the crap in it anyway, so I left.

I went to my favorite little 'hole in the wall' type grocery store and was excited to just get some 'browse' time in there. You never know what new item and/or bargain they are going to have in there, often changing by the day. I was in luck this time as they had just gotten in a bunch of new stuff and put a bunch of last month's stuff on closeout (It is one of those stores where they purchase stock from truck wrecks, insurance write-offs, store closings, etc., and sometimes they get too much and have to clear some of it out to make room)  I ended up getting about 7 bags of groceries for around $23.00!! But telling you what all I got will be a post in itself.  I will say, though, that the best part was the fresh Jalapeno Peppers for 29¢ a pound!  Yep, if the rain holds off long enough, I will have to fire up the grill, stuff them with cream cheese, wrap them with bacon and grill them... mmmmm.....  Oh, and I got my cupcake (59¢)- shame on me. But Dusty did help me eat it.

 One more store (where I ended up buying nothing), then I was about to head home when I got a call that someone was coming to pick up a puppy. So timing was really working out. And Gidget went to her new 'forever' home today. Gosh, do me and the boys ever miss her already! Dusty was whimpering before they got to the end of the street with her! And he is still moping. She is such a sweetheart, but I am happy to know that she is going to such a wonderful new home and will have another Boxer to play with.

I have been taking advantage of what has turned out to be a beautiful day and working outside ever since. I just came in to take a short break and ended up writing this post. Although overcast (sun peeping through now and then) it is hard to believe that it is going to do what they say it is going to do here. The rain stopped long ago (rained just hard enough, long enough, to close the flea market). But, in order of priority, I am continuing to batten things down, a few at a time. I also made it a point to tell the girls (goats) that I absolutely forbid them to kid during the storm! They are good at that, you know. My body is agreeing with the weathermen, so I am moving a little slowly, but still moving. When you quit moving, that is when you stop moving.  Next, I am going to go figure out how to cover my Tater Tub. Then, if time still allows, I am going to pick a big mess of fresh Lambs Quarters while it is so pretty and tender, as hail, wind, and even heavy rain that is followed by strong sunshine, tends to really tear it up. So to all of our wonderful readers... have a safe and wonderful Saturday!  (or Sunday if you are already there)


(AF) Planting on Hold & Storm Prepping

I had planned to set up at the flea market today (Friday - I'm still up and it is still Friday for me) - but it just didn't work out that way for several reasons. I had also planned to come straight home while I still had a long stretch of daylight and get a few more veggie plants set out. But when I saw the weather report this morning, the entire day changed and I never left the house.

I could not believe what I was reading. They were giving storm and tornado warnings for the next day.... more than 24 hours away!! see here   Everywhere I looked the reports said the same ... spend the day preparing for the worst storms possible, for multiple tornadoes, hurricane force winds, softball sized hail... and the list went on. They said to prepare all life forms with emergency preparedness, securing food and water and tie everything possible down. They said to make sure to prepare TODAY because there might not be enough time tomorrow. GEEZ!!!! So I watered my new little plants, left them in their pots, let them enjoy some sunshine today, then brought them back inside tonight. Planting them in the ground was not going to be a good option today! I am still trying to figure out what to cover the 3 tomato plants with, that I already have planted (something that won't blow away). And then there are loads more planted at Dave's (all the stuff I got on my last visit to the produce market, plus the tomatoes he started early. He has been so busy getting them all planted every spare minute he could muster.)  They need to be covered, I am sure, but it is very difficult to cover that many plants, and it is also difficult, even here in Oklahoma, to comprehend the magnitude of what they say is forming over us.

I have spent the day doing several things to prepare, but there is still so much to be done (that won't get done in time). I just hope and pray they are wrong, it is less severe and it misses us. Course, it is raining right now, even as I type. I have so many plants and cuttings in pots out there, that I just don't have the strength still to get them all put away somewhere sheltered. I am not sure where I would even put that many. Many are up against the house, and the rest are up under trees, but certainly still not safe from huge hail and extremely high winds. I will have to just do what I can do and pray hard the  rest survives. Preparing for the safety of me and my critters will have to come first and foremost.

Times like these are when I wish I had a storm cellar. But I have rarely ever seen one that didn't stay full of water and snakes. I still hope to someday have one that is good and dry. It would be a great place to store a Fall harvest, too. I remember when I was little, growing up with a cellar packed with shelves full of home canned fruits and vegetables, and walking around on cinder blocks to get to them without getting our feet wet in the cellar. I was a pretty big kid before I learned that you could get veggies in a can at the grocery store! They weren't as good, though.

Well, every critter on the place is actually quiet all at once and sleeping, so I think I will quit rambling now and head up to bed. I will need to get up early in the morning and make some last minute preparations, such as bringing in plenty of drinking water and making sure I have plenty of matches and candles close at hand. The power goes out here at the slightest breeze, and my water pressure is already down to a tiny, thin, trickle (something appeared to have broken in the last storm and they are taking their time fixing it). But I still hope they are wrong and all this prepping can just be chalked up to practice.

Good night, and to all of you that are also in the predicted path of this possible storm outbreak, my prayers and good thoughts are with you. Stay safe!

Friday, April 13, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Pickles for your Sinuses

Here in Oklahoma (and I am sure many other states) we are in the midst of our Spring respiratory allergy season. This year it seems to be one of our worst. So with that in mind, combined with the fact that I am still battling my extreme sinus infection, I have decided to devote all of April to sinus remedies.

As some of you know, my sinus infection has been so extreme that I have had a multitude of mini strokes over the past month. (I am so glad to report that I have had only one or two very tiny ones this week, which I managed to stop/slow down using the acupressure points.)  I have asked everyone possible (friends, pharmacists, store clerks, etc.) what their suggestions were to remedy my sinuses. One of the oddest, yet very effective, suggestions I have had yet was dill pickles, suggested by two different store clerks at that!

Of course, my first thought was, "no way!", but they both explained to me that there are several ingredients in Dill Pickles that aid in relieving your sinuses. One of them strongly emphasized that it had to be DILL pickles, as there was something in the dill weed that was very effective. She also explained that something about the combination of the ingredients, including the cucumbers, especially helped. So I thought, "Why not..." I had a full, unopened gallon of dill pickles at home that had been sitting untouched for months (I had gotten them because I needed the jar), so I figured I would try them.

By the time I got to the end of that first dill pickle, I was amazed at the relief I got. My sinuses eased up considerably for the next couple of hours. But I was still skeptical so I decided not to put too much stock into it until I tried it a few more times. Well, I am 3/4 of the way through that gallon of pickles now, and with every pickle I have eaten, I have received very noticeable relief for two or more hours after I have eaten one. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it is a cure in itself, but it sure has given me relief. And coupled with other remedies, I am now feeling considerably better!

This concept fascinated me so I had to do some research to see if I could find out the logic behind why Dill Pickles appeared to be working so well to relieve my sinus pressure. Here is what I found about dome of the ingredients in a jar of Dill Pickles:

 DILL - This wonderful, flavorful herb has more healing properties than I ever dreamed it did! Among those properties is respiratory health. Dill contains components that are anti congestive, anti histiminic, anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti inflammatory, and kills mold. It aids in clearing the congestion in your respiratory system. As an added bonus, it just might also alleviate the cause of your sinus infection! (bacteria, mold, fungi, etc.)
Here is some more good reading on the subject: Health Benefits of Dill, Dill, Health Benefits of Dill Weed 

GARLIC - Garlic is known to have antiviral properties which helps the body fight against allergies (which is a common cause of sinus irritations/infections). It is also anti bacterial, anti fungal and, best of all, a great, natural antibiotic! Since prescription antibiotics (very strong ones at that) didn't work on my sinus infection this time, I definitely need something like this.

VINEGAR - Be it white or apple cider, vinegar is anti bacterial, kills molds, and is decongesting. It can be a great help in the fight against sinus irritations/infections and its causes. I don't know about you, but when I bite into a big, juicy, dill pickle, it often squirts up into my nose (via the back of my mouth) and that seems to be a good thing because it gets it to where it needs to go.

CUCUMBERS - Little did I know that cucumbers are anti inflammatory (which can reduce swelling in your nasal passages), among many other health benefits! Cucumbers are loaded with Vitamin A, which can help keep the surface lining in the respiratory tract intact. Who would have thought?!

And then, in many jars of Dill Pickles, you might also find mustard seed, which also has anti inflammatory properties and is anti fungal.

So as you can see, amazingly, all the ingredients in a jar of DILL PICKLES may very well work together to alleviate sinus infections/irritations! Looks like Dave and I will have to grow LOTS of dill and cucumbers this year to can lots of dill pickles with.

Have a great, easy breathing weekend!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Jackpot Find!

Sometimes being frugal, or being a tightwad, isn't just about saving money, but making money as well. Even better, making that little bit of money from things someone else has thrown out!

One day last week I was leaving my mom's and heading to run some errands. As I went down one of the side streets in her neighborhood, I noticed a pile of 'junk' setting by the curb. As I was in a hurry to get to one of my destinations before they closed, I made a mental note to check the pile out if it was still there when I finished my errands. And as luck would have it, it was!

I knocked on the door and inquired about the pile. It was garage sale 'leftovers' and was up for grabs for anyone if they wanted it before the trash pick-up ran and took it all. She said I was free to take any or all of it that I wanted. There were some nice things in that pile (in my opinion) and I couldn't bear to see it trashed, so I rearranged, pushed, shoved, grunted, and managed to get it all crammed into my car.

I wasn't even sure what all I had, as a lot of it was tightly boxed up together. So when I got home, I unloaded it all and spread it all out to get a better look at it and see what my jackpot netted me.


Everything supposedly works, but I am checking it all out to be sure. There was quite a bit of electronics in the bunch, including things that I had no clue what they were. The printers/scanners I will have to do a little researching on. Some of those things you can no longer get cartridges for and the refill stores aren't allowed to refill them. That stinks and is such a waste!!! I hate throwing perfectly good working things like that away! And as you can see in the back, Dusty felt the need to 'stand guard' over it all. He's such a good dog! As you may remember, he was also a "dump off" that I brought home, and he has turned out to be a great value to me and my little farm.

There were a couple of things in the stack that I decided to keep, but most of it I took out to my flea market set-up last weekend. Although it was a slow weekend and most of it got rained out, most of what I sold came from this stack! That CARS lamp/talking alarm clock went really fast, as did the GMC computerized analyzer. I have a few things left, but quite a bit of it sold. I still need to find a battery to see what Elmo does. That set of bathroom scales you see in the front is one of those fat analyzers, and all of us at the flea market had fun trying to figure out how to program it, but none of us have figured it out (free entertainment during slow periods, although watching us trying to figure it out was probably what was entertaining, lol). I will have to look the instructions up online. It does appear to work, though.

I was needing something to put my smaller stuffed animals in at the flea market (besides the plastic bag I keep dumping them in and out of each week) and that tub worked great so I kept it. Now I just have to grab the handle and drag it in and out of my storage unit/tiny shop each week and it is ready to browse through! I am also going to keep that styrofoam ice chest. I am thinking of making an egg incubator out of it. I am saving up "junk" to try and make one for nothing. Wish me luck! Oh, and if you have already made one, I would love to hear how you did it.

But my best 'find' in the whole pile was a calendar. It had a .25 sticker on it. It was a 2008 Thomas Kinkade, Painter of the Light Calendar in great condition. I thought that surely it was worth more than a quarter, but couldn't believe just how much more. I decided to research it online before I set it out on my quarter table and was shocked to learn that it was selling on Amazon for just under $157.00!!!! So no, it is definitely NOT going on my quarter table! I absolutely adore his work, and am greatly saddened that he has passed away and there will be no more of his beautiful works created (and he was so young!!!, so very, very sad). So it is a tough decision as to whether to sell it or keep it. But as finances are so extremely tight, I am sure I will have to sell it, but certainly not for 25 cents! (glad that sticker came off cleanly)

So, my Tightwad Adventure for this week was tightly cramming my car with treasures that were someone else's trash! If you have a simple, easy, and ultra inexpensive way of cleaning all of those lovely silk flowers you see there in the pic, I would love to hear it! They are in great condition, just dusty.

Have a great and thrifty week!