Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pets, Worming and Fences

Well, it has been decided - we are getting a hot wire for a fence to keep Buck in. We hope to have it installed within the next two weeks. We'll just bite the bullet and put it in. I think we can manage to keep it clear of growth. Maybe I will put cardboard and mulch under it all the way around to keep anything from growing there. I can also dump the wood ashes in the tough spots to kill the growth without poisoning the ground or animals. Salt works well too. We'll have to cut back all those blackberry bushes!

How high should the wire be and what do we do about the 2-3 ft of snow? Will the snow drifts over it short it out?

We just have to get through the next couple of weeks with Buck chained a lot. He's unhappy and, therefore, so are we. He's the joy of our lives right now and we'd do just about anything for him - except let him wander free around the neighborhood.

We take him outside and play every day. I let him run around with me when I am outside but I have to keep him in sight or he will quietly sneak off and go through the fence. I think I have found where he is getting out and will fix those couple of spots today. Then we'll see how it goes. He will have to be chained when we cannot keep an eye on him, at least until we get the electric wire in place.

I wormed the pets today, all three of them. I know that roundworm powder package says that it's easy with no vomiting or wrestling with the critters (I paraphrased). I have used this roundworm powder about every three months, since
Abby came to us about a year ago.

I wasted an entire box the first time, following the directions. The paper that comes in the box says that you take the food away until the pet is hungry. Then give them a little, put the worm powder in the remainder, then let them finish it. Not fuss, no mess, no vomiting, no hassle, etc. etc. etc.


Both Abby and
Shadow turn their noses up at anything with that powder in it. They simply will not eat it. I have even put it in tuna and they wouldn't eat it and they LOVE tuna! All I have to do is start opening a tuna can and I have two cats at my feet. It's not the can opener, it's the tuna. They love it - but not with the worm medicine in it.

So, I came up with a plan several months ago. I dissolve the powder in a little water and put it into a syringe. I then squirt this liquid into the back of the cats mouth. Of course, I have to hold each one wrapped up tightly and wrestle with the critter to get it all down. I only squirt a little at a time, giving them the opportunity to swallow it. I have done this a couple of times in the past year and it works ok, of course, both cats were just born summer 2009, so have not been very big at the past wormings.

This method seems to work well for Abby the tabby. She is still quite small and light. Usually Abby is the feisty one, biting when she wants down and always grabbing and playing, but a real sweetie and dear to our hearts! When I wrapped her up tightly in my polar fleece sweater, she just snuggled down into it and relaxed. I think she liked it, at least until I start forcing her to swallow that horrid stuff.

She doesn't like that.

Shadow on the other hand, is usually very mild. We call him the "Little Gentleman" because he is always so polite and easy going. He never shows a claw or bad attitude to anyone, not even Buck. He and Buck have become buddies, sort of. He will purr and rub against Buck and hang with him, until Buck starts to play rough, then Shadow runs away. Shadow purrs all the time whenever anyone comes near. He loves everyone and puts up with anything, always purring - HOWEVER - he has grown into a very large, stocky and unbelievably strong fellow. I didn't realize how strong until I tried to wrap him up and feed him the worm medicine with a syringe. It become immediately clear to me just how much muscle he had grown since the last time. I got a deep long gash of a scratch, but did manage to get it all into him, on him and on me. I gave him and extra half dose for this reason.

He forgave me and purred when I came to see him later to ask his forgiveness for having to put him through that and, as usual, I cleaned up cat barf this morning.

What do other people use to rid their cats of roundworms? There has got to be something easier that doesn't cost an arm and a leg or a visit to the vet!

Giving worm medicine to Buck was a piece of cake, or a muffin as it turned out to be. He just gobbled it all up and licked anything left behind. It went down totally unnoticed and as quick as a wink. I don't think he would need it if he would just quit EATING THE CAT POOP out of the litter box! Dogs! You would never catch Shadow doing that! He's too high falutin' to eat anything other than cat food and fish. Shadow won't even eat raw hamburger!

So all three pets get wormed at the same time.

Abby the Tabby, on the other hand, will eat whatever she sees Buck eating. She ate an entire dry cracker a couple of weeks ago because Buck got one! Abby and Buck are not friends - not at all. He would love to play with her but she's just too little and won't put up with anything from him. She won't back down either, so this usually results in Buck getting a few clawed swats on the nose whenever he gets near her. He has learned to just back off and ignore her.

He absolutely adores Shadow! I'm glad Shadow has learned to be friendly with Buck. It's so sweet!

Here are my questions:

1)Is there something easier that I can use to rid my cats of roundworm without a vet visit? (Cats don't eat pumpkin seeds or garlic.)

2)How high do I need to put the electric wire?
3)Will the snow drifts short out the electric wire and how do we overcome this problem - It is not possible to keep it shovelled all around the 3.5 acres of fence. Perhaps a higher, second, separate system wire, turning the bottom one off in winter?

Any help will be greatly appreciated!!
I apologize for the lack of pictures. (I will add some later.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Soap Making and Buck

I have been making soap for the Craft Fair on Dec 4th. I made three small batches just this morning and a few last week. I am cooking it so it will be ready to use. Soapmaking is fun and so addictive!! I took this picture (above) of my soap last year. It's for my book on "Making Organic Soap at Home" that I have for sale on my farm site. I like doing photo shoots of things. It's a fun hobby!

This is one shelf in the soap closet in the bathroom where I dry all my soap. It contains strawberry, lilac and "blueberry pie". The strawberry is not as pink as I would like. It's a bit too peachy buy I have always had a problem getting a good strawberry soap colour. I have had good, pink soap before but it always seems to be something other than strawberry. When I aim for real pink, I can't get it. Oh well, "Murphy's Law". If anyone finds out where this "Murphy" lives, please let me know. I have a thing or two to say to that fellow!

The "Blueberry pie" soap is my favourite this year! It was a rebatching experiment to save a soap with a colour that I did not like. I am very happy with the way it turned out!

This is the other shelf in my soap closet with this year's soap on it. It contains "almond biscotti", coconut, "healing herb" and "sweet orange". The "healing herb" soap is made with oil of oregano and thyme - both natural antibiotics. Some of these soaps are made with milk, which is why they are browner.

The "almond biscotti" is my favourite soap scent! It's amazing and always sells out first.

These are for the craft fair at Base Borden on December 4th. I now have all the pumpkin pies, brown sugar body scrub and soaps completed for the sale. I like to have it done ahead of time. I am a bit rushed this year, but next year I am going to start in January making things for the fall sales! I always say that...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Perfect Squash

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I like to grow squash, lots of squash. Over the past couple of years I have grown many different kinds in search of the perfect squash. Well, I think I have found it!

This is the Hopi Black squash. It's very large! I know it's not black now, but it is black when it's young, as it is in this picture.

It is as large as a big hubbard, but the skin is easier to peel and can be cut with a knife, as opposed to an axe. I have to use an axe or a hammer to cut into a hubbard squash.

The Hopi Black squash is very sweet, dense and delicious. It has a small seed cavity with a lot of meat.

The meat is a much darker orange than any squash I have seen. There's a big difference in the colour. Does this mean it has more beta carrotene? I wish I could find more information on that!

This is a very old, rare and hard to find heirloom squash. It was grown by the Hopi Indians generations ago. It produced as much cooked and finished squash for the freezer as I got from 4-5 small ambercups.

This will be the only squash I grow for our family in the future. It's very large, meaty, soft skinned, sweet, delicious and easy to grow. It does have a long growing season so I will start them early indoors, but that's fun anyway.

I may plant many different types in the big field next year for a "pic your own" squash and pumpkin field...maybe, but this will be the only one I grow for processing by us.