Chilly Summer

Actually, it hasn’t been a particularly cold summer, in truth. June was spot on, but July has been slightly cooler than usual. It’s been very hot on some days, leaving me to drip sweat in the heat, but that is largely from the humidity. The rainfall we have been getting in unusual, however. Last month we had eight-and-a-half inches… Our average is somewhere closer to 3.5. And July has been no different. We’re half-way through the month and our rainfall has been four times what our average rainfall is. I can only imagine that the exceptional amount of rain is what has been keeping us cooler.

Because of the cool weather some plants that should be burning to a crisp right now are doing surprisingly well. The peas and lettuce should be shriveling up in 85-90 degree days, but instead they’re growing and producing surprisingly well. The tomatoes feel almost a bit stunted from the cool, though they’ve begun to produce as well. Soon they will need to be staked up.

Cleaning out the garage to remove the rats continues, albeit slowly. Other things sometimes take priority, such as standing up fallen plants and removing flowers from plants not yet established enough to bloom. Animals must be fed and watered before other tasks are completed. The bees have to be kept in sugar water. Preparations for fall already have to be started. It’s a busy time.

My father went on a trip to Maui recently. That’s one of the smaller Hawaiian islands and is where one of my sisters lives. He brought me back a rather unflattering t-shirt in a vibrant blue color. “Look!” he proclaimed proudly, “It has a chicken on it!”. It does, indeed, have a rather stunning graphic of a rooster on the back of it. But the cut is so unflattering and the shirt so large that I wouldn’t feel very comfortable wearing it out. But what can you expect from a 73 year old guy? I thanked him and told him I’d wear it while working and doing livestock presentations. It seems appropriate enough for that and he looked happy. I can always use more work clothes and it looks like it’ll be a very good shirt for that.

I have too many tomato plants right now. I have experienced another epic saga of tomatoes this year. Tomatoes always seem to be a source of drama in my garden. There are two kinds of tomato plants; determinate and indeterminate. Determinate varieties grow in bushes a few feet tall then they stop and they set their fruits all at once. Indeterminate varieties just keep growing until they can’t any more, and they set their tomatoes in random batches.

Last year I grew indeterminates (san marzino) and the tomatoes became such a jungle that I could hardly walk through my garden paths that run between the beds. I quickly lost control of the plants, they become overgrown and collapsed. The tomatoes set seemingly at random, growing a few here and a few there, never enough to can. Tomatoes lay rotting on the ground everywhere. Blossom end rot became overwhelming and blight started consuming the lower branches leaving foot-high tunnels under the collapsed plants. The groundhog who regularly raided my lawn for the tomatoes ran rampant in that clear undergrowth into which I could not reach. There were so many tomatoes that not even my dogs could overcome the groundhogs temptations. Ultimately, while I grew a lot of tomatoes I didn’t harvest many tomatoes. I ended up with just a few jars of tomato sauce for my efforts. It was just too much.

This year I decided no more to indeterminate tomatoes. I ordered Bellstar tomatoes and planted 61 seeds with the hope of getting 40 plants. While around 50 or so germinated, they began to develop problems of their own. Leaves started yellowing, drooping and falling off. Whole swathes of plants began to die. I learned, eventually, that this was likely wilt, a fungus that is almost impossible to treat and control. I ended up with about 8 or 9 plants, all infected with this disease so I could not put them in my gardens. I was heartbroken.

Then one day I was out in early summer, weeding the garden to put in some late seeds when I went to pull a plant that looked awfully familiar. While I’m used to getting the occasional volunteer squash plant, I’m not used to other volunteers. The first few I ripped out without a thought until I realized that this strange plant was everywhere across my beds. Dozens. Maybe even hundreds?

They were tomato plants. Dozens of tomato plants all over the place from the rotten, consumed, dead tomatoes that fell unharvested from our plants last year. They were in every inch of the garden bed… Which actually makes sense because I spread and till the top of my soil each year. There were more than I could imagine when I finally started to notice them.

I now have dozens (50 or so?) planted in my tomato patch for the year and dozens more that I’ve found homes for in gardens of friends and family. Still more have simply been pulled and removed as weeds, and I have others that need to be removed even though they are huge and beautiful. I just have nowhere for them to go and they are in the middle of places like my watermelon patch. That’s unacceptable and they must go.

Some of them will be filling my sister’s garden bed (the one who lives a few blocks away), and some I just don’t know where they will go. And to think… I thought I had too many last year! This year I will find a way to manage them better. They will get posts put in the ground near every single one and they will be tied to them with twine to manage their growth. Anything less and they will overwhelm my garden again!

But it seems that fate has determined that I am to grow THESE tomatoes specifically, and not any others. They’ve gotten a late start but are just starting to set fruit. Hopefully, through careful management, they will not be quite so overwhelming this year. Fingers crossed. Our tomato saga will continue.

Advertisements

Garden Layout (Round 1)

This year I did some serious work planning my garden. Usually I just kinda stick things wherever I feel like they’ll do well, but this year I actually made a full-blown honest to goodness map.

I measured my garden bed yesterday and found out it’s much smaller than I thought. I was spot-on with how deep it is (8′) but I thought it spanned nearly 40′ long. In truth it only hit 28′ when including the emergency addition I put in last year, so I called it 26′. That addition worked out sub-par, producing no eggplants and a handful of robust squashes that it took me several months to discover were buttercup squash… Though through no fault of the garden plot, honestly. They just got crowded out.
(Incidentally, those squashes became my go-to vegetarian holiday dish for Yule this year. I stuff them with a stuffing made out of “wild” mushrooms (usually just a mix of shiitake, button, oyster and portabellas), chopped walnuts, onions and basmati rice, all cooked in vegetable stock, butter and wine, seasoned and topped with parmesan. Conveniently, I could sub out the butter and skip the cheese and make it vegan if I wanted… But I’ve never had a need or reason. Still, it’s nice to know that I could prepare something delicious that meets that criteria if I needed to. I like to be accommodating.)

While Yule tides me through the darkest part of the year, I am always thrilled when my seeds come in. And come in they have! They arrived just this morning, right after I finished making my growing chart!

I had some problems last year with my plants. The biggest problem (besides spacing and varieties grown) was the addition of some pests to my garden. I figured they’d crop up eventually but it still sucks. So now crop rotation, companion planting and integrated pest management come into play.

I referenced these pages on companion planting;

http://www.vegetablegardeninglife.com/companion-planting-charts.html
http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/companion-planting-guide-zmaz81mjzraw
http://www.almanac.com/content/companion-planting-chart-plant-list-10-top-vegetables
http://www.ufseeds.com/Vegetable-Companion-Planting-Chart.html

I try not to use one source only when I do research so I referenced all four.

And then I used these pages for pest prevention;
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pest-repelling_plants
http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/12-plants-that-repel-unwanted-insects
The wiki list is very good and I generally consider Wiki to be well managed.

And with the additional few feet we want to expand, ultimately, I came up with a yard layout that looks like this;

gardenplan2-2017

I made this in a free open-source art program, similar to photoshop, called GIMP. This shows all the features of the left wall of my lawn, including our trenches for run-off, and the mixed flower bed surrounded by rocks that we’re planning on putting the bees in.

The key is;
Green BB = Beans
pppp = Peas
Pale Green B = broccoli
green LL = lettuce
green SS = spinach
grey H = herbs (various)
yellow D = dill
red RRRR = radish
Yellow C = Corn
Purple P = Purple Beauty bell pepper
Red A = Anahiem
green J = Jalapeno
gold S = acorn squash
pink W = watermelon
red T = tomato (our new tomato variety has smaller plants than last years)
peach O = onion (we’ll be buying onion sets)
dk green/black Z = zucchini
The grid is square feet, and some plants are supposed to grow in the same spots as the corn. Radish is harvested before the corn grows and the squash uses the corn plants as a trellis. Herbs are spread out to help deter bugs on susceptible plants. Dill is separate from herbs because it’s mammoth dill and grows several feet. Clustered letters indicate how many plants we’ll be planting in a specific spot, whereas the big letters show the amount of space those plants are projected to take up. The letters that take up a single space on their own are just that, one plant per square foot.
I would also like to set up 2-4 potato bins for seed potatoes against the fence, between the garden bed and the chicken pen and grow radishes there as well a little later in the year.
Also marked is our shady spot (left) which is shaded by trees in the spring/summer, and unshaded in the winter/early spring, and our ultra-wet spot (bottom) that floods next to the garden bed with 1-3 inches of standing water. East is 1/4 of the way down on the right wall of the bed image.
There’s a few glaringly huge problems with this layout…
1. Crop rotation. It’s hard to do when you only have a few hundred square feet and the same areas of the lawn have the same conditions from year to year. For example, the leftmost garden squares that are shaded. The summer sun scorches us with 90*F+ for a week or two every summer, and that shade is critical to protecting leafy greens, peas and other plants that are easily scorched. Even in spring it can be overwhelming and the ground cracks. On the left, currently it’s marked with “herbs” but last year that’s where we grew kale. Similarly, the leftmost beans are where peas were last year (legumes on legumes). We can’t plant things like peppers or tomatoes in that space because they won’t get enough sun. So plants that have specific requirements for growth like the watermelons, kale, other leafy greens, beans and peas are all in unfortunately similar areas to where they were planted just last year. (And the year before that.) And there’s not much I can do about it.
2. The bottom of the bed is 7′ deep. Now, in theory I can reach in the 3.5′ from each side to weed and harvest… I have long arms and tools. But in reality I suspect that’s too wide for me to manage without stepping on the beds (which as we all know is bad juju). This could be a serious problem, or I could us boards to step on.
3. That’s my working location for the bees… Sunny in the winter, shaded in the summer, protected from rain and wind by trees and a fence line, easy to access but not somewhere I use… But it’s uncomfortably close to the garden beds, and I want to keep the dogs out of it… So I theorized putting a small stick fence around it. It could still be a big problem because bees don’t like things in their flight path. I’m working on that one.
4. Soil erosion at the bottom part of the bed where the standing water is. This has been a consistent problem, yearly, since we moved in. That land needs to be built up with organic materials that can absorb to water and a way for it to drain into the irrigation ditch needs to be considered. Something has to be drastically different soil-wise.
In reality, I might spend much of today retooling this layout. We also may be expanding beyond this point by bringing in manure from local horse farms for free and adding more onto it. But as it stands, this is how I’m growing plants. In addition to this, I have a 4’X4′ bed of everbearing strawberries that overwintered from last year and about a 3’x3′ bed of flowers out front I’ll be trying to plant up a little better this year.
One way or another, in total I will be gardening at least 300 square feet this year, some of which will be vertical (beans and peas on trellises, potatoes in boxes).Not too shabby, but a long way to go still. Hopefully, with a little luck, we’ll be able to expand further than that this year and do a much better job.

Climate Change Sausage

Last month there was a major historical moment that passed in the blink of an eye. I doubt most of you know it, but this year our global average temperature exceeded 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial era average temperature.
(And if you’d like to ignore this fact, please feel free to be an ostrich and just scroll down to sausages. Truly, sometimes we just need some tasty food, not a morose look at our reality.)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/04/is-el-nino-or-climate-change-behind-the-run-of-record-temperatures
http://grist.org/climate-energy/global-warming-is-now-in-overdrive-we-just-hit-a-terrible-climate-milestone/

Most people don’t even flinch at a two degree difference because it’s such a tiny number to us. For those of us in America its about a 3.6F difference. What harm could a few tiny degrees of temperature do? Well, as it turns out, a lot since it’s not like we’re going from a high of 90F to 93.6F in the summer. That number (2C or 3.6F) is the global SURFACE temperature, but what typically controls the weather is ocean and atmospheric temperatures (such as  El Nino) where a change of 3.6F surface temperature can translate into changing the temperature of whole oceans, even well under the surface. That comes back up to the surface later, and with so much more warm water, absorbing even more of the sun’s energy it has an exponential effect on our surface temperatures in hot areas, translating to an actual change far greater than that of 3.6F. In truth, the gap between where we are now and a global average climate change is exponential. For example, an increase of 9F is not going to translate into Nebraska going from an average high of 88 to an average high of 97… It is going to take Nebraska from an average high of 88 to an average high of 130F or higher.
Imagine for a moment the north pole. This past December the temperature at the NORTH POLE reached nearly 0C. That seems like a low number, but that is 32*F. The point at which water freezes. Now do you know what’s under the ice at the north pole? Ocean. Ocean that absorbs heat from the sun and air, rather than reflect light and cool air the way ice does. You know what else is under the ice (or more specifically IN it)? Methane, which absorbs more heat from the sun than other air particles. So you know what happens if that ice starts to melt? A chain reaction, where the ice melting causes MORE heat to become trapped on earth, which makes more ice melt, which makes more heat become trapped…

Well, I’ll let this guy explain the very scary reality of it to you;

This is an older video, four years in fact. Average global temperatures will probably reach +1.5*C in the next decade and we’re close to that now. Now what this guy doesn’t mention is the SOCIAL impacts of these problems. And if you think they won’t happen you’re kidding yourself; we’re already seeing them.

In July last year, an area of Iran hit 163*F. What!? I mean, we can understand temperatures above 110*, where you don’t go outside because it’s too hot, where elderly and children may die without shelter, water, etc. Those types of numbers typically appear in deserts, places like Death Valley in CA may even hit up to 130*F, which we may be able to manage with good buildings and swamp coolers. But this is higher still. Ten minutes outside at 140*F is enough to kill a healthy human. But this is even higher than THAT. This is a temperature that will literally kill you, whether you have shade, shelter, water, or anything. It’s literally too hot to exist. You will literally be cooked to a delicious medium-well pot roast. And that is the reality RIGHT NOW in the middle east.

And that incredibly shocking number, that so many people claim is just people being silly liberal naysayers but is actually well documented science, is a symptom of a much larger problem which is the drought in the middle east. The lack of water in the middle east has become a huge problem and if you think that the whole “not having food thing” has nothing to do with people getting angry, revolting, and killing each other, one needs only look back on every war ever where people started starving and revolting and killing each other. Just imagine adding to that the concept that both sides think THEIR God is punishing them for allowing the other side to live or some other religious nonsense and the fact that the US and other countries have been exploiting the middle east for petty power struggles, money, oil and world dominance for 100 years and it becomes a no brainer that people there are violent, angry, aggressive, extremists who just wanna destroy the whole world and take everything they’ve been denied for decades for themselves. Is it right? No, but it is definitely real.

And if you think “Well they’ve always had their silly religious wars and they have always been a desert. That won’t ACTUALLY reach America.”, think again. We feel the effects of those conditions every day through recessions from wars, terrorist attacks, TSA searches and oil prices as it is. Those effects spread, they have a butterfly effect. The recession put my dad out of work, no money meant my mother wouldn’t go see a doctor as she got sick, it means cancer had a chance to run amok in her body for years, and it means that on March 15th I will be honoring the day she DIED because some guys I never met dozens of years ago decided America needed more money and oil and set the precedence for our foreign policy in the middle east and our environmental policy of “ignore everything”.

And if the effects of foreign bodies reaching into the US and having chain reaction events aren’t enough or are too vague, remember that people are killed and threatened for not following a particular religious belief in the US rather frequently as it is. One only needs to look at our current presidential election to witness divides between frustrated people in a poor economy. And the droughts and aberrant weather patterns? They’re here, they have been here  (for quite some time), and they will get much, much worse in the future. We are HOMESTEADERS. What happens when we get so little rain that we can’t grow our plants and animals any more? What will YOU do when your farm dries up to a crisp or is flooded under a foot of water for nine months of the year from these conditions? What will you do when people get fed up with being shot at for being different than “the norm” and don’t even have food and shelter and they decide to start picking up guns of their own? What will you do when it’s YOUR family being threatened by that instability?

The future is scary. It’s terrifying. I never thought I’d see the day when the conspiracy theories that my parents used to listen to on college radio would seem not so far fetched after all.

So what am I doing about it? Well, I’m trying to found an egalitarian Ecovillage here in Northeast Ohio, a project I feel like Wiki does a fair job of explaining. We’ll live sustainably, we’ll form communal supportive bonds, we’ll rely on each other, and try to live well and respect other people without the discriminatory, violent, hateful, exploitation that permeates our current societal structure… Care to join us? (No, seriously, if you’re interested, please let me know!)

But beyond that, global change is out of my hands. I can change myself, but after that it’s not really up to me. It’s up to all of YOU folks out there. Like the TEDx video says; if you see this, it’s now your mission to make the impossible possible. Because without it we’re all screwed.

And in the meantime… I will show you some delicious sausages.

I had some friends over recently to help me prepare some rabbit sausages that, I must say, came out rather deliciously. I did my digging and my research and here’s how we did it. Your results may vary.

We started by testing out the meat grinder that I received for Christmas two years ago. Because of how tumultuous the following two years were, I never got around to using it so this was the first time it had been out of the box. It works very well, so I will endorse it but it does seem to have some clogging issues during stuffing. Not sure if that would be better or worse on a different model. The most frustrating thing about this grinder was the very short cord on it. I sure hope you’re prepared to use this large contraption on a small counter right next to an outlet and not on a tabletop! Or you could, you know, buy an extension cord.

Sausage1
Next, we deboned and cut the rabbit meat into chunks. the best time to do this is when the rabbit is still partially frozen but you can cut through it. Unfortunately this is VERY cold on our wee little fingers and difficult to deal with it. But we persevered and left a carnage of bones in our wake.Sausage2 - Copy

This was the hardest part. We also cut up some pork belly into it. Rabbit meat has almost no fat and so it makes a terrible sausage on it’s own. It really needs fat from another source so that it doesn’t turn into rubber when it is fried. Most people say to use half pork-half rabbit like one does with deer meat. Out of 9lbs of ground meat, about 1.5lbs were pork belly, so a much lower pork to rabbit ratio than most people suggest. I really didn’t want to use a lot of pork because I wanted rabbit sausage, not rabbit-and-pork sausage and this ratio of 1.5lbs pork belly to 7.5lbs boneless rabbit worked out just fine. It gave plenty of fat for cooking and retained the rabbit flavor of the sausage. The pork belly came from a local market and was from an Ohio hog.

Sausage3 - Copy

We ground the meat and mixed the batches together to make sure that the pork was well distributed. For grinding meat, the grinder worked like a dream. Then we split the meat into two bowls and let it rest in the fridge while we mixed seasoning. We made equal amounts of two types of sausage; Italian and maple breakfast links. We got hog casings from our local big-box grocery. They sold what they called enough “all natural salted hog casings” for 25lbs of meat (which is probably accurate) in a tiny half-pint container for about $2.50. It was right in there along with Sugardale bacons, Johnsonville brats and cured box-store hams, so if you’re looking to make sausage, casings may be closer than you think! The maple syrup was 100% pure Ohio maple syrup. My herbs come from a local Italian restaurant supply store where I can get them in bulk for cheap. All around I spent maybe $9 on outside supplies and perhaps $1.50/lb on my own rabbit meat, meaning perhaps $2.50/lb on high quality natural sausage. Is it a good price for the product? Yes. Could I make money on it? Probably nah. Could I have done it cheaper? Probably yeah. Around here, chicken sausage goes for about $4/lb, which I think is a good comparison and it’s not the same quality product at all. Some day we may be able to provide all of these things to ourselves and not have to source anything from off the farm.

For recipes we just looked up recipes online and created an approximation of a mix of them, especially those for chicken sausages. We put more maple in the breakfast than was called for, and used wine as our liquid in the Italian.

We decided to do the Italian as bulk stuffed and the breakfast as links. We would keep some loose from each batch. Stuffing the sausages was much rougher than grinding the meat the first time and so I didn’t get any pictures of the actual process.

Sausage4 - Copy

Ultimately we had some problems with the sausage meat clogging up the grinder and getting turned into mush. Every time we’d clean it out after this we’d get about 3″ of clean meat before it’d clog again. I suspect that a bit of oil and feeding it a bit more slowly and loosely may have helped with the problem but we were aiming for something with a lower fat content and so adding liquid oil seemed counter-productive and we really had no idea what we were doing. In the future we may add a little less pork and a little more liquid oils during the stuffing process; olive for the Italian and vegetable for the breakfast.

Breakfast links. The ones that stuffed correctly on the right and incorrectly on the left. You can see the difference between the correct "lumpy" texture and the lighter over-worked much texture on the left. Both still tasty.

Breakfast links. The ones that stuffed correctly on the right and incorrectly on the left. You can see the difference between the correct “lumpy” texture and the lighter over-worked much texture on the left. Both still tasty.

Tubes of Italian with the same problem. "properly" ground lumps on the inside, over-worked meat on the outside.

Tubes of Italian with the same problem. “properly” ground lumps on the inside, over-worked meat on the outside.

Ultimately we cooked it up and had some really high quality sausage and some lower quality but still delicious sausage. I gave some to my friends, helpers and family and kept back plenty for myself. We will not be buying store sausage again for a good long while! Yum!

Sausage7

Some of the over worked breakfast sausages and some loose crumbles cooking in a bit of water as a taste-test. While the texture was wrong, they’re delicious and edible.

Hey, I’d eat it.

Cold Snap and the end of the year

Keeping up with blogging has been difficult lately. Christmas was promptly followed by my birthday, new years and now the coldest day in a decade. On Christmas, The Hawk came back and took two of my birds including Nugget. That means both of my original Golden Girls are now gone. All the Australorps are still fine so we still have the Old Guard, but none of the new girls have names yet. Nor are they laying. Egg production is almost non existant right now.

We have strung CDs to try to keep The Hawk away, but that method can be questionable at best. So far there has been no sign of the chicken killer, but it hasn’t been long yet.

Last yearwhen hurrican Sandy hit, I expressed my lack of concern over thhe rain storm as our winter weather is far worse than any hurricane that reaches us. After getting two feet of snow (and having to shovel off the chicken coop and rabbit hutch!) We discovered that our temperatures were about to fall drastically. The past week has been a frantic rush to build cages and move all the animals indoors. We finished them up yesterday and brought in all the critters we could, even the hens. By noon our temperatures had fallen to 0. We brought all the animals into the garage by 3PM, after which the temperature fell rapidly. Overnight it was a balmy 20s in my garage while outdoors a -36 windchill blasted the area. Some of the hens had already been showing signs of pre-frostbite on their combs when they were brought indoors at 3PM. Overall we fell 53 degrees in 24 hours.  We will be back into the 20s by nightfall today and the hens will be back outdoors. Right now however it is still brutal and 0 degrees out.

I finished tanning my first batch of rabbit hides with medium success. Some of them came out a bit papery in texture… Nothing like the suede texture I was hoping for but still workable. I am thinking of making a throw out of them. We’ll see. It is certainly strange trying to stretch and work the hides!

We are still finishing the current setup for the rabbits with stacked cages, but once that is finished ourpalns for the spring and summer will continue to expand! We are hoping to double our garden and we are considering miniature ruminants such as goats and sheep to continue to grow out homestead! Progress will be made and maybe now that the winter panic is over I can begin to update more often… But the work on a farm, however small, is never done!

Tonight I will be putting the last of the CXs I got for free into the freezer, and making chicken soup out of the bones. For the first time in weeks I will get a nice and quiet night!

All the Cray that isn’t Fish

It’s said that in Cleveland that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. It’s also asked “What do you call a day in Cleveland where it’s 70 degrees and sunny after days of rain?” The answer is, of course, “Monday”! After weeks of nice weather, it suddenly began to pour over the weekend. And on friday it decided to hail. And saturday, too.

A photo of some of the hail we had over the weekend, taken from a local news site.

This after weeks of dry as a bone tropical weather. Of course it was still toasty as the hail came screaming down and melting immediately upon gaining contact with the wet ground… My sister and I left to visit my mother and get lunch on the way and pulled into a fast-food joint as it started hailing hardcore. The banging of the hail on the car roof was so loud I had to shout to be heard in the front seat. Naturally that first thing I asked as we pulled in? “So do we try to shout over the hail through the drive-through speaker… Or run inside as fast as we can!?” At the top of my lungs. I got a dirty look for that one. Ah, hail humor.

We decided to wait it out. It calmed down just long enough for us to get our food. It stopped by the time we reached our destination. Somewhere at home my strawberries had become a sadder sight, with holes in the leaves. The next day it did it all over again. And now we’re getting frost warnings every night!

Oh Cleveland weather, you sly dog, you! You’re so crazy!

Credit to Abby Howard @ JSpowerhour.com

Naturally all this cray wasn’t the limit to the cray cray. On friday morning I woke up and immediately cleaned cages so I could sell some rabbits. The one Purina was in had gotten pretty bad with all the not-so-baby bunnies in there for so long. The babies went home to a couple getting back into breeding rabbits after some 20 odd years. The other two ladies were due to go home as well, except one of them has something like a bacterial infection of the tear gland (wat? since when is that a thing?) and needs treatment. We’ve been doing a saline flush and chamomile, but it’s not working well. Unfortunately that means antibiotics. The good news is that it’s an inexpensive relatively safe treatment. All the while Greg was handling a job interview and application process for a very decent office job that could cover all our bills. Crazy morning.
Then I went to visit my mom at the hospital during the hail storm. She got some holes in her belly put back together the day before. It was also the day after her birthday! What a birthday, huh? She was eating had candies and drinking apple juice; impressive considering they did a minor intestinal surgery. She was doing great, already up and walking around with a gusto. She wants to be done and OUT of there! And soon she will be and will be back to normal again… At least for now, and that will be good.

I came home and had to clean up hail damage. I ended up having no time to post my foraging friday. I’ll do a double next week to make up for it!

Then on saturday we woke up and all the oldest baby bunnies broke out again. luckily they’re in the garage so as usual they only give us some frustration, it’s not serious. I really need to find a way to put mesh tops on those cages… And one one of them they chewed through the netting wall around their water bottle! I fixed it with some wire mesh; they can’t chew through that! Then we went out grocery shopping.
Leaving Greg at work immediately after my sister helped me unload the groceries into the house. And by “help” I mean she dropped a 24 pack of cookies on the floor! She picked them up, but left them open on a nearby table. I immediately had hours of stuff to do, and so putting the cookies away didn’t take top priority. Whoops.
While I was out taking care of my sister’s dogs, Nukka the Crazy Husky got into the box of cookies. Completely ignoring the less-irritating oatmeal raisin cookies she snacked down on TEN very BIG cookies some four inches across… Each one filled with something toxic such as chocolate or macadamia nuts. (Please note; raisins and grapes are also toxic to dogs. This was a bad situation all around.) Naturally I didn’t notice until much later that evening when Greg went for a cookie and we wondered where they had all gone. Normally in that situation you’d fill your dog’s tummy with hydrogen peroxide until they puked it all out (this is legit, I swear), but in this case it had been five hours already and I figured they were probably digested. The next day she had all the symptoms of a blocked intestine, or potentially pancreatitis. She puked all over her crate and it smelled like diarrhea, which was something she also had. She was starting to drool and couldn’t keep anything down. Oddly enough she showed none of the symptoms specific to toxicity like shaking legs or lack of appetite.

So Sunday night I spent in the lobby of an emergency vet with my cray cray cookie-thief of a dog. And I stayed there until well into this morning. Greg wasn’t with me because he now has a new job and started today. After a large bill was handed to me they had determined she had a swollen intestine from all the crap she ate and was otherwise fine. No blockage, normal pancreas, no toxicity. This is not the first time this has happened. She got IV fluids, was given no food for 10 hours and then was put on a bland diet with anti-nasuea pills. She’s recovering quickly so far.

And now? We’re being the crazy dog owners that cook food special for their dogs. Boiled chicken and white rice for 2-3 days.
And poor Greg? This whole time he has been trying to get this job that will pay all our bills, and got it. Upon the getting of which he realized his two week notice at Starbucks wasn’t up. Now he has 12 straight days of work ahead of him after all this craziness, one of which is a 12 hour day.

And as of today? I have sold 11 of the 12 in the new litters of rabbits.

Oh life… Y U no be sane?