Archive for February, 2010

Pets in my Life

Animals have always been important to me.  Growing up on the farm I was surrounded by living creatures.  Those  destined for slaughter or sale were never named.  Somehow, giving names, humanized them.

The ones staying with us long term were a part of the family;  naming was appropriate .   There were Big Jim and Pet (mules used to cultivate the crops), Bossy and Bessy ( cows  supplied milk and calves for meat), Porky ( a sow [female hog] gave us pigs to sell or to butcher).

But boy oh boy, did we ever have a parade of dogs and cats!!   Everyone of them was  named;  it was assumed they would be around for awhile, even the ever present supply kittens and puppies (there was no spaying and neutering) each got it’s own designation.

Fast forward to adulthood and my becoming a parent.  I did, of course, name my offspring.  I assumed they would be around for awhile and the designation “hey, you” or young’un just did not seem appropriate.

With the kids came pets.  Over the years we boarded cats, dogs, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits,  fish, birds even

Affectionate, loving disposition

few snakes and rats.   Now those kids have young of their own who are sheltering furry loved things.

Time passes, people come and go, but pets will always be a part of my life.   Let me introduce a few who live around me right now.  There’s a pretty good assortment.

First and main pet is this one.  Her name is Linda.  I stoled  her from a loving father and mother almost 24 years ago; she seems to like our territory and has claimed it as her own.   She  feels  she can tell everybody and everything around the house what’s what; we pretty much let her have her way.   Thank goodness, she’s paper and potty trained; likes a pat on the head/ behind every now and then; not hard to keep happy, most of the time.   Feels  obligated to care for us all.

Wanting to be fed and petted. See the beautiful fins.

One  group of pets came to us  by accident, but have given a lot of pleasure.  Years ago,  when I repaired  a fish pond outside our kitchen door I put feeder gold fish in  to control mosquitoes.  The next year we noticed little minnows–they were reproducing!!  A strain of fish, with beautifully flowing fins has developed.    These little creatures respond to site and the  sound of our voice, coming to be feed or petted when we go out the door.

Inside there is a small container with a pretty blue sailfin siamese beta and his mate.  No young,yet.   He just looks  so lonely by himself;  she is the only fish he will tolerate in his bowl.

They maintain this order: Screech, Lucy, Li'le Bit

We live within the city limits;  roosters are suppose to be a no no.  Since everybody has a few chickens and nobody has registered a complaint, yet, there are several chickens on our lot.   The 3 serama bantam are my favorite.   A pair roost outside our bedroom window on the air conditioning unit; another rooster is right down the way on the next air conditioning  unit; they start to crow around 4:30 every morning.

During the day the trio marches around the property, always one behind the other, in this order:  lead rooster (Tiny Mite), hen (Lucy), last the single rooster (Screech);  sometimes  Big Boy (a silky rooster)  invites  himself to join the group, just to hang around.

Tabby and Reynard: move over, you're in my place!

Tabby is a cat that has been part of our  family over 15 years.  We got her as companion for Reynard, a beautiful intelligent little male  Pomeranian when they were each very young.  Age and infirmity took Reynard from us.

Recently, we made the decision to bring more little friends into our lives.   I have always loved orange cats.  The hunt was on.

When I filled out adoption papers for a gorgeous neutered orange 8 month old kitten at a local Humane Shelter, I honestly answered  we had agreed to allowed Tabby to be declawed (front only) fifteen years ago, I was denied adoption.

I assured them, I agree with current  thinking;  declawing is cruel; I will never do it again.   Sorry, you already did it once.  YOU ARE DENIED!

” But that was 15 years ago”, I whimpered, “I am so sorry!”

More opened-minded counselors at a facility in Columbia willingly  allowed adoption, as long as I signed an agreement to never declaw  Tigger, a beautiful neutered orange tabby, who adopted us recently.

Tabby is not nearly as thrilled with this arrangement as her human family is.  She has insisted as part of the peace pac, I allow her to express her frustration in a blog.  She invites you to share her  feelings.

To complicate matters more, Ms Vicki, a 14 week old, orange, female Pomeranian showed up the same day Tigger came  home; poor Tabby feels her world has fallen apart for sure!

There are caged birds of various kinds, as well as the creatures who  frequent  our property; not  pets in the strictest sense.    They are acquaintances, I guess, who bring joy and pleasure as we watch them fly, scamper, hop, and crawl around our little part of the world.

They are all loved.


Pushing Spring

empty bluebird house with sign

It's all ready for the spring and summer residents

It is that time of year again!    I will not say  I have cabin fever; just know I can not believe it is mid February; my fingers  are aching to feel dirt under these ragged nails.

The past four days feel like spring; to heck with the fact  a week ago the ground was covered with an unprecedented level  fluffy soft white stuff– 5 inches worth at my house.

It was gone in a day’s time.  Then the itch set in.

First I see a flock of robins  (actually around a patch of snow).   Talk about a sign of spring! Then I notice the elm tree buds swelling.

Thoughts  turn to our family of bluebirds who occupy our nesting box every year.  The old box has seen  it’s better days after 4 years, so got a brand new cedar one ready.  Hope it is not too high class for my country pair.

I can not wait to get started with the outside garden.   For some reason I have had it in my head that the last frost is about 6 weeks away and mentally have been planning in that direction.  When I was driving  to the garden center a couple days ago,my poor aging brain suddenly calculated,  officially the last killing frost is about April 15.   This is mid February, officially  there are 2 whole months til spring planting time.

“NO WAY!!  I ain’t going to wait that long!  I won’t, I got to have  a dirt grubbing, finger nail busting  fix NOW!!”

strawberrry bucket

15 Tristar and 10 Quinault strawberries and a lot of hope

Whew! thank goodness, I know about alternative gardening methods.   Fixed up a new fangled strawberry bucket. Twenty five strawberry plants later I am on my way to spring time!  That did not calm my dirt grubbing craving though; it just added fuel to the urge.

Limited (but very successful)  Ebucket and homemade earthbox trials last year give me great hopes for this year. Dreams of oodles of heirloom tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and corn fill my head.

Really jumped the gun; started  9 varieties of heirloom tomatoes early February.   They are up and going; along with some heirloom pepper.   Only have room for 2 plants each variety so planted what I thought was 5 seeds of each; imagine my surprise when from 6-8 plants showed

Heirloom tomatoes--I planned 5 each but Surprise!!

for most of the varieties.  I did not realize seeds could stick together so well they look like a single seed.  Maybe some lucky souls will accept gift plants.    The challenge now will be to keep them growing til the warm weather comes.

Well, swell, I know what I will do.  Never planted a winter garden.  I do have raised beds I have been working with for several years, wonder if I might be able to plant something in one of them?


Using the square foot gardening idea on a 3 x 10 foot raised bed I am beginning;  9 Georgia collards and 3 Golden Cross cabbage, I am off and running.   Experimenting with an earthbox for 6 of the cabbage.

6 Golden Cross cabbages in earthbox

Last year’s crops taught me not to pooh pooh close planting.  Can’t argue with over a

Collards and cabbage using square foot garden spacing

dozen beautiful ears of corn from a 10 gallon earthbox or one pound size tomatoes from 2  ten foot (plus) vines growing in a 10 gallon box!

How innocently it started.  Now I am planning beets, carrots, chard, lettuce and spinach.   It is late, but I am going to plant garlic cloves, maybe some onions and potatoes.

My enthusiasm for herbs has been fanned as well.   Started, already, are oregano, mint, thyme, parsley.   I enjoy the fruit smells of scented plants so here I go in that direction as well.

Like a kid at Christmas time with dreams of sugar plums dancing in his head, this old geezer dreams of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and corn and Spring that is on it’s way.


A note: just saw our mama bluebird checking out the new condo; maybe her family will move in and I can change the sign to “occupied”.

Come on Spring, come on!

Why Build?

Received a comment on one of my blogs the other day that got me to
thinking. This post, which appears to come from someone with
a vested interest in another product,  states that while he finds my instructions detailed
enough, he does not have the time or tools to spend on the
project. He is very happy with another product.

I say “Good! I have no difficulty with your position.”  It makes perfect
sense to me.

This post did get me to thinking. Why do I spend time and
money making things that I can  just as easily buy?

There are reasons:

. Outrageous pricing, add shipping and handling, the money
spent borders on being ridiculous. An item that works for
less money is a source of satisfaction.

. Creative pride. Commercial garden products are items marketed
as necessities. Very few are original items, most are simply
Grandpa’s practices dressed with today’s look. Ask “What would
the old folk have done?” Maybe, I can do something similar.

. Excited anticipation. The anticipation of,will all this come
together or is it a stupid idea? Will it actually do what it is supposed
to do? is much more satisfying than “Will UPS ever get here with
that package?” and the letdown of “Oh, for pete sake, I could have
made this thing, for a lot less money!” that is a part of so many

. Victory dance. “That is never going to work, I have never heard of anything
so ridiculous!” The smug “the poor ole fool” looks that I get, with some of
my projects, make the success even sweeter than the produce! Braggin’
rights for a whole next season, when I will try  something stanger!!

The simple fact is, gardening is a hobby, not a necessity. I know  when the crop
fails, I will not starve; the grocery store is right down the road. The prices are outrageous,
the produce tasteless many times, but it is there.

When I can produce a few dozen ears of corn, a few servings of beans, or a plate of sliced
tomatoes and cucumbers, I feel an indescribable pride and connection with the earth  I
never get from pushing the cart through the produce section.

When these things are grown in containers and contraptions that I build, well, there
is a warm feeling of “gee! maybe I am not as lost as I thought I was. I can do somethings on
my own, I do not have to depend on “big business” for everything”.

I can dream.