Friday, March 30, 2012

Watch Out For Ticks!

Deer trails should be avoided due to ticks!

We may have loved our mild winter this year in upstate New York, but it also means that our tick population is showing up earlier than usual. Instead of having early spring without worrying about ticks, we have to be extra careful this year. Our dog, Nikita does not go out into the woods much anymore now that she is older. The cats in our house are another story though!

Hobo sleeps and hunts in that heavy brush. So do ticks!

Patches and Hobo will find a place in the heavy blackberry bush growth to curl up and sleep during the day. This is a perfect place to lure a tick out of the brush with the promise of a blood meal on the cat's neck or other choice spot. Being very diligent about checking the cats every evening when they come in for the night is the only thing I can do. I cannot keep those two out of the brush as they are obsessed with getting out there every day.

The deer tick is the cause of a bacterial infection that is known as Lyme Disease. If left untreated, it can cause a  number of health conditions. If caught in the early stages and treated with antibiotics the person or pet can recover completely. Just because you have a tick on you, it doesn't mean that you have Lyme Disease. That will show up as a red mark or rash on your skin, in the same location where you removed the tick. You can read about it here in this book, Everything You Need to Know About Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Borne Disorders, 2nd Edition, which I recommend to familiarize yourself with it.  I usually apply alcohol after removing one. I remember getting them on me as a child living in Florida, where I spent a lot of time in brush and pine woods.

When you are going out into the forest or brush area, wear long sleeves and long pants. Tuck your pants into your socks and wear boots. I know it is hot, but this will keep you safe from deer ticks. Use rubber bands or garters on the cuffs of your sleeves. Don't wear a loose tee shirt, instead wear a light jacket or parka and zip or button it up at your neck line. Wear a hat and if you have long hair, fasten it back and put it up under the hat. My friend, Jamie swears by Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth, as a natural flea and tick treatment for herself and her pets. She dusts herself and her pets before they go outside everyday in tick season.

I am not tying to scare you, just reminding you to be careful so you don't catch Lyme Disease from this little pests. They don't seem to crawl around much so you don't really feel their movement. It isn't until later that you find one on you. My husband had one on him last year and didn't even know until he was sitting at his computer. I check my cats really good around their necks and under and between their legs. Check your critters very carefully for each and every little bump. It could be a tick!

According to New York State Department Of Health, "Not all deer ticks are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Ticks can become infected if they feed on small animals that are infected. The disease can be spread when an infected tick bites a person and stays attached for a period of time. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 hours or more before the bacteria can be transmitted. Lyme disease does not spread from one person to another. Transfer of the bacteria from an infected pregnant woman to the fetus is extremely rare."

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ideas For An Early Spring Garden

Ready to plant!

Since I have planted a cool weather garden this year and wrote about it a couple of days ago, I have had several people inquire of me, "What exactly is a cool weather garden and how can I start one?"

The ground in your garden has to be thawed completely to do this. Some people will lay down black plastic sheeting in the fall, so that in early spring the ground will thaw sooner. I did not do that. After an unusual warm winter without much snow and warm early spring temperatures, our garden beds were thawed. After the ground is thawed, it needs to be plowed up and if you need to add new compost to it, do it now. Then plow it up again and mix it in. We use our wheel hoe for plowing, like the Earthway Tubular Steel High Wheel Cultivator 6500, which does not use any fuel. Just man power. Our wheel hoe has a bicycle tire on the front though.

Once it is plowed up, you can plant cool weather crops. These are various plants who really do much better in the cool temperature of early spring. In the summer when your temperature is higher, they fail to thrive. You are lucky if you can get any to grow at that point. Since I am dying for salad, the first one I planted was lettuce and some salad greens.

Some good choices for your cool weather crops would be:

I hope this gives you some ideas of  some seeds that can be started, even if your weather is cool. I know Carla Emery used to tell in her book, Encyclopedia of Country Living, 10th Edition, that she'd just poke the pea seeds down in the ground just to get them in as early as possible.

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Springtime At Peaceful Forest

Our horses are loving this spring. As much as the horses love winter and snow especially, they like a cool spring before the bugs get here. They have been spending a lot of time laying down in the sun.




Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Cool Weather Garden

My favorite place to be!

We have had such an unusual winter and spring here in New York this year. I am thrilled to have actually planted seeds in my garden already! Never, have I been able to do that in all the years I have lived here. Using the wheel hoe we plowed up our raised beds on the side of the house. The wooden ones. Once that was done, I could not wait to plant something in them.

All planted!

I decided to plant some cold weather vegetables. These are vegetables that like cold weather. They actually do better being started in the early spring, as soon as the ground has thawed. Every year though, we usually cannot  start the garden until late May or early June. That means it is too late to start the cool weather plants. After these plants are harvested, probably in late May, it will be time to plow the beds up again and plant the seedlings I started in the house. Haven't started them yet, but will be doing that within the next couple of weeks.

Called the "snake bed" due to its shape

I spent a couple of days this week planting peas, kale, spinach, beets and cabbage. I have already planted two small raised beds of lettuce and salad greens. Chives, lemon balm and rhubarb are coming up too. My husband also dug up one of our rock raised beds, this one is the biggest and usually the hardest to do. We call it the "snake bed." I planted peas in it. Now we'll wait and see if the weather stays cool, but not too cool, so they do well. Have you been able to start your garden yet?

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why Are Dog Treats From China STILL On Store Shelves?

Nikita loves to roll around in the snow!

In November of last year, it came to my attention that the dog treats, I was purchasing for our dog, Nikita are causing other dogs to die of kidney failure. Today, I found out that the FDA was first aware of the problem with these treats back in 2007! This makes me VERY mad! My dog is a loved member of our family and if I lost her due to her eating those treats, I will be even angrier. I can only imagine how the other dog owners feel who have lost their beloved dogs.

I still have two brand new bags of this poison in my pantry that are, and will remain unopened. I am saving them in case I need to have them analyzed. Too many people have lost dogs due to these treats for anyone to take the chance of buying them now. It really bothers me that Walmart still has them on their shelves, along with tons of other dog treats from China. The same with Save-Alot. Here is another link for the newest ABC news story on these treats, Toxic Treats From China Killing US Dogs, Say Pet Owners.

Nikita Blackwolf

Here are two recipes I found for making my own dog treats for Nikita. They are not hard to make at all, and  she likes them even better than the store bought ones. I am just praying, that she was not effected by the ones that she ate in the past. And she did eat a lot of them.

Homemade Chicken Jerky Dog Treats

chicken breasts (or turkey) make as much as you want
Seasonings depend on dog, garlic (see note below), parsley, mint, rosemary or sage
olive or canola oil

Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with Pam spray.
Slice chicken breast very thin with the grain
Pat dry and then lightly coat with oil so the seasoning will stick
Lightly season, optional
Place chicken slices on the baking sheet in single layer spaced evenly apart
Bake in oven for 6 to 8 hours turning every two 2 hours.

Ground Chicken Jerky Dog Treats

1 pound raw ground chicken
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder (see note below)
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
Combine ingredients and puree in food processor. Spoon into baking pan lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with Pam. Spread the mixture evenly in the pan. Bake in oven at 180 degrees for 2 hours.
Remove from oven and cut into desired sizes using a pizza cutter or knife. Place back in oven and continue to bake for another 1-2 hours or until dry and leathery.

NOTE: Be aware that it is often recommended to NOT give your dogs garlic. Large amounts of garlic can cause anemia in dogs, however, many experts agree that small amounts of garlic are actually beneficial to dogs. Garlic should not be given to dogs that are already anemic. Otherwise, for seasoning purposes do not exceed 1/4 teaspoon per pound of meat. If you are concerned - simply omit the garlic from recipes.

What do you think? Do you think Walmart and Save-Alot and other stores should take them off their store shelves? I think they should take them off the shelves now! I think what makes me really mad is that here, they are so busy trying to arrest farmers and homesteaders for selling raw milk, when these foods from China are causing our dogs to get sick and die! Come on FDA! Do something to earn your paychecks for us, the American people, who love our dogs!

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Wheel Hoe

The Wheel Hoe

I have written about our wheel hoe many times on here. Today I was just going to post the pictures for Wordless Wednesday. Well, I couldn't do that. I had too much to say on the subject. Considering I have already written two different blog posts on this little piece of equipment, it still is one of my biggest traffic posts. It seems many people, around the world are interested in it. Why not? It uses no fuel except the human kind.

The bicycle tire on the wheel hoe

In my post, Preparing Our Raised Beds For Planting Season, I told about using the wheel hoe. Some people refer to it as a wheel cultivator. Whichever term you use, it is a nice little tool. What it means is that you can plow up your garden quite easily, if it is a regular garden spot. It is quite easy to plow up a garden area or raised bed with it. If you are a physically strong person, you can plow up a new piece of ground with it also. My husband has replaced the original wheel which was iron, with a bicycle tire. It made it much easier to use.

The front of the hoe

I won't show it in action here, as I did that in the post I wrote last year, Plowing The Garden With The Wheel Hoe. With the price of gas going up, using a wheel hoe is good way to cut down your use of fuels. What we like is that you do not have the smell of fuel in your face while you are working in your garden. Our garden has never been plowed with a rototiller......well, once. A friend of my husband's came over with his rototiller to start our garden area when my husband was injured at work. Well, that rototiller smelled up our whole yard, it kept quitting and it got tangled up in the weeds we were trying to get rid of before it even came near the dirt. He didn't finish. That was the only time ever we used one here.

Side view of the hoe

We use it for plowing up the raised beds and for removing weeds that grow between the plants. Some beds I can't do that on as I fill it with food. They crowd out the weeds. If there is a weed growing there that we eat, like dandelions or lamb's quarter, we leave it alone. A wheel hoe is a great addition to your garden especially with the price of gas going up. Try it!

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, March 19, 2012

Getting Seeds Ready To Start

Raised beds today

Planning your garden should be utmost in your mind at this time of the year. Spring this year, is warmer and most of our snow has melted. A few piles are around, melting slower because they are in shaded areas. Today looks to be a gloomier day though the sun was shining quite brightly a hour an ago. My garden plans are being worked on today.

Seed starting equipment

 I brought up some of my seed starting equipment upstairs to get organized. Your equipment doesn't have to be fancy or bought especially for starting seeds. I use old containers that I have purchased small plants in. Over the years, I have collected more than a few. I also use disposable cups or whatever I find. Cut down a paper milk or orange juice container to start some in. Those plastic food containers from the grocery stores can be used to put the little pots in to catch the water. Makes them easier to move around.

Seeds in packets

I got out my seed packages and starting sorting through the ones I want to start now. Keeping various types of vegetables and herbs on hand is good so you have plenty to choose from. Add to your supply every year and try to add heirloom seeds. Then you will be able to save the seeds for the future years. As I go through the seeds, I will be putting some into glass jars for safe keeping. Nice little stash for the future!

Plowed up one raised bed since the weather was so nice!

By the way, add me on Google+ and we can talk!

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole