I'll come back at some point and post pictures from this gardening season also. I'm just really, really proud of what we accomplished in our first year of gardening. I hope every year goes this well. I
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
I'll come back at some point and post pictures from this gardening season also. I'm just really, really proud of what we accomplished in our first year of gardening. I hope every year goes this well. I
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Over the winter my husband built a cold frame for one of our veggie boxes and I planted some kale, lettuce, and spinach seeds. Unfortunately I either planted them too late in the year and the soil was too cold or the seeds were bad on the kale and lettuce because they never came up. The spinach has also been very slow growing and we haven’t had any yet. Another problem may be that the plastic we used was pretty thick so it was almost white instead of clear/see-through. Daylight hours are short and on top of that we don’t get much winter sun since it’s usually cloudy and raining here. Thick plastic like what we used may be fine in other areas that get a lot of sunny days in the winter but I’m thinking here it might not be the best way to go. This last weekend he built cold frames for the rest of the boxes so we can get an early start on planting and used a thinner plastic so that a lot more light can get through. It doesn’t get cold enough here to worry about using a super thick plastic but we originally tried that since it stands up better to wind, and it’s harder to tear when you are removing the cold frames to check on the plants.
Today was a gorgeous day of almost 60 so I decided to take advantage of that and get some work done in the front yard. When we filled the boxes with soil last year we didn’t have enough to fill the last two by the road completely. We filled them each halfway and then figured we’d fill them the rest of the way this spring. At the time I think we were going to fill one of them with just tomatoes since we use tomatoes a lot. But then as I thought about it, they would be right next to the sidewalk, and while I’m all for sharing, I didn’t really want people walking by and just taking the tomatoes since they can be really hard to grow here. Eventually I planned out the boxes and decided to put in turnips, rutabagas, and carrots in one of the boxes between the sidewalk and the road. These are all plants that can be put in pretty much as soon as you can work the soil and all chances of hard frosts are past. The seeds will also germinate at soil temps as low as 40 degrees. With the cold frames on I can be planting them now. I don’t have carrot seeds at the moment (and honestly, I don’t remember if what I just wrote applies to them, but it does apply to the turnips and rutabagas) but I have the turnip and rutabaga seeds so I planted them today. I had to first move the soil from one box to the box that I’ve designated as the root veggie box for this year since we haven’t gotten any more soil yet. I also planted snow peas today as well since they are another crop that does well in cool temperatures.
There are so many things that I love about doing this. I love that we’ll hopefully be growing some of our own food this year because there is nothing better than a tomato warmed by the sun right off the vine with that deep rich earthy tomato smell. Or the taste of my moms calabacita made with zucchinis right off the vine (made vegan now of course). I also love that we’re learning to be a bit self-sufficient and giving a bit of a fuck you to food corporations that are destroying our food supply. But the best thing so far has been the difference it’s making with our neighbors. Just today when I was out there moving the soil from one box to the other box the neighbor that lives behind us came by and said hi. He then stopped to ask what I was doing. We’ve been here just over two years and he has never said a word to me except for when one of our chickens escaped the yard and he came to let me know. All he ever does is scowl when he walks by. Then a bit later a lady who takes her kids on a walk everyday came by and the kids stopped to ask what I was planting. Yesterday when they had gone by they stopped and the kids were pointing to the cold frames and then counting them. Right before I was done out there another guy walked by with a child that I assume was his grandkid and said hi and said he loved what we’re doing out there. Every time one of us is out there at least one person says something about the veggie boxes. People even talk to us as they drive by or stop their cars to chat with us. There’s been at least a half dozen people who have said they are definitely going to do the same. A lot of people ask my husband how he built them and how much it cost to build them. I figured that by doing our gardens in the front yard it might inspire some people to at least think about where their food is coming from, but I never imagined that so many would actually notice what we’re doing and that everyone would be so positive about it. I think it helps that we live on a corner where people have to slow down and look around when they are driving by and we get a lot of foot traffic because we live right behind a grocery store and a good amount of people in our neighborhood walk to the store instead of driving. Even the people at the grocery store have been positive about it and cashiers have asked me questions. Last fall after Halloween was over they had some bales of straw that had been used for their fall displays and were going to get tossed. My husband happened to be working outside on the boxes at the time and the guys throwing them away asked if we wanted them for our boxes instead. We took a couple and spread them out in the shed and the garage since they’d been outside for a month. That was really nice of them and saved us some trips to a feed store since we needed the straw anyway.
I’ve also started some seeds indoors recently. We bought some full spectrum grow light bulbs that you can just put into a light fixture like a regular bulb and they are working really well for starting plants indoors. Back in October I decided to start a tomato plant inside just to see if I could get it through the winter. It’s now over 2ft tall and doing amazing.
A couple of weeks ago I started some tomatoes and tomatillos and they are doing well. I plan on keeping them inside until mid-April and then moving them under the cold frames. I also recently learned when you buy celery if you cut the stalks off about an inch from the root you can plant the bottom and it’ll start growing again, which over time can help cut the amount you spend on celery in half. I decided to try it and I’ve got celery growing on the dining room table right now.
Last night I planted broccoli, zucchini, spaghetti squash, Cinderella pumpkin, eggplant, red peppers, and butternut squash as well. The broccoli I should be able to move outside under the cold frame in about a month and the rest will be inside until end of April most likely. I don’t really think I’ll be able to keep the squashes alive until then and then be able to move them outdoors but I’m going to give it a try. I may have to direct sow them outside once danger of frost has passed. From what I’ve read they are hard to start indoors and then transplant outdoors. But since I’ve got plenty of seeds of all the squashes I listed I figured it won’t hurt and if it isn’t a success it doesn’t really matter since I can’t direct sow the seeds until mid-April at the earliest anyway.
I forgot, last week I planted some other seeds outside in the box designated for greens this year. I planted some kale, swiss chard and romaine lettuce. We changed out the thick plastic on that cold frame to a thinner see-through one so hopefully this time everything will sprout and grow with more light getting through.
Once stuff starts growing I plan on taking pictures to share. I meant to take pictures of the cold frames today but the batteries on the camera are dead and I was too lazy to bother charging them before I went outside to work.
Monday, December 19, 2011
We had been thinking about adopting a friend for Holley for quite some time. We kept going back and forth on it because we already shared our home with five dogs and adopting another dog is a big responsibility since we absolutely believe in adopting for life. Holley is five years younger than the second youngest and we know some day they will be gone and Holley will be without any canine friends. She was taken from her mom while she was in the middle of nursing at five weeks of age and in some ways Holley has never grown up and she constantly seeks out the comfort of the other dogs. She still loves to pile up like the way puppies do when they sleep. We knew we could always adopt later on, but it might be harder on her when she’s older and it may add more stress if she loses friends and then some stranger comes into the family. Last Wednesday night I dreamt about my mom’s dog and he was in a shelter and something kept telling me to go adopt him. I very rarely remember my dreams and when I do it’s usually only for a minute after I wake up and then I can’t recall them. But it stuck in my head and it just kept nagging at me. Years ago something similar happened, I just woke up one morning and felt like we had to go to the shelter and that’s where we found and adopted Lestat. It was the same thing, we’d been talking about it for a while but we kept wondering if we should wait or not. I got online and brought up our local humane society’s website and was looking at the small dogs on there. Then I went back to my email to email my husband and in those 5 to 10 minutes between checking my email that morning and looking at the dogs my husband had emailed me about one of the dogs at the humane society. I then went to petfinder.com also and was searching small dogs and came across this rescue that had a lot of Chihuahua’s and it piqued my interest because while Chihuahua’s in rescue has sadly become fairly common it was definitely not common to see a rescue with so many of them. I went down to the local humane society to meet the two dogs I’d seen on their website that were closer to Holley’s size and both were highly popular and someone was in the process of applying for one of them and the other one had people from a rescue there to see him and take him. So I left since they seemed safe. This shelter does euthanize quite often and it broke my heart to see all the bigger dogs. I wish we had the room for a big dog but we don’t because of the layout of our house and Holley is only 6lbs so we have to be mindful of the size of the dog since a dog even twice her size could really hurt her or the other two little ones if they got into a fight or something.
I talked to my husband some more and told him I’d gone to see them and they both had people interested in them and applying for them while I was there. We both looked at that rescue again with all the Chihuahua’s and decided to go there since they have open visiting hours almost every day. We took the necessary paperwork we’d need if we apply (proof of homeownership, current utility bill to prove we live here, vet info, etc.) and we headed out there. Now I will admit, I am a complete sucker for Chihuahua’s. My parents always had Chihuahua’s and they were always my best friends growing up. I adopted a Chihuahua when I was 16 and she was like my canine soul mate. Obviously we’re not the type of people who will only adopt Chihuahuas considering Tisha is a poodle, Lestat and Strider are both lab/GSD mixes, and Holley is a Dachshund mixed with Chihuahua. But I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Chihuahuas.
We got to the rescue/shelter, which is inside of a vet clinic and we were still not sure who we wanted to meet. I had looked at Danny’s profile on petfinder.com and while I looked through their book of profiles I kept going back to Danny. I think it was because he reminded me of my mom’s dog that I had dreamt about. They brought him out and he was nervous and scared but after a few minutes in my arms he completely relaxed. My husband loves puppies and someone in the waiting room was adopting a puppy so he asked if there were other puppies. They did have a litter of puppies so a volunteer took us back to meet them and they were so adorable! Their mom was such a sweetheart and her babies were just beyond adorable. At first I thought he just wanted to see them but after a couple of minutes it became clear that my husband was leaning towards wanting to adopt a puppy. I refused to hold them because I knew if I held one I’d be done too.
I started asking questions about Danny and also the puppies and why do they have so many Chihuahuas. The veterinarian that owns the clinic started taking in local animals that were homeless and providing vet care and getting them adopted out. She had fallen in love with a Chihuahua she’d rescued and began taking Chi’s from L.A. and getting them adopted up here. In L.A. there are a lot of Chihuahuas and hundreds are euthanized every day. Earlier this year the rescue raised enough money to buy a bus to become the Rescue Bus. They drive down to L.A. and load the bus up with Chihuahuas and any others that they can fit in and then bring them up. They take dogs that are on euthanasia lists and this is their last chance. The veterinarian treats all of them and once they are cleared they go up for adoption. Danny had been a stray on the streets and wound up at a shelter and was going to be euthanized. Cupid and her mom and siblings were also to be euthanized because they all had been owner surrendered due to having sarcoptic mange. Sarcoptic mange is completely treatable but can be expensive and some shelters are so over-taxed that they can’t even afford some of the most inexpensive treatments.
We were really having trouble deciding who to adopt. My heart was torn. Danny seemed like such a sweetie and the thought of sending him back to a cage was hard. He’d been there since October with very little interest and to be quite honest all I can think is it’s because he just doesn’t stand out looks-wise and holding him he was so timid and shy and quiet that it can make it difficult to get to know him. But I could tell that he was very sweet. Of course the puppies were just beyond adorable and who doesn’t love puppies? Eventually I gave Danny to my husband and I held a puppy. He was so adorable and I was definitely torn. We left the room and I filled out the application/contract while we still debated on who to apply for. I turned it in and then decided to go back to the puppies one more time. By then I had decided on Danny since I knew the puppies would be very quickly adopted (two were already spoken for but they couldn’t go home until after their last injection for the mange). I picked up this little girl that I had kept looking at and she immediately did what Holley does and what Sable used to do and went for my neck and burrowed herself in while stretching her little body all the way out until even her toes were pointed. I was done. I went back into the waiting room to ask if she was spoken for and she wasn’t. I really could not decide and I joked about adopting both of them. The staff was completely okay with us adopting two of them. We discussed it for a second and then said okay.
Danny came home that night since he was already neutered and up to date on vaccinations, flea treatment, deworming, microchipped, etc. Cupid couldn’t come home until Friday night since she needed her last injection for her mange treatment. They were no longer contagious but they wanted to make sure all of them get that last treatment on time. Danny was nervous that night. I don’t know what he’s been through but someone has definitely not been nice to him. He’s been hit by people for sure and I know strays are often treated poorly by people on the streets. Even people who are generally nice to dogs will yell at strays to stay away, throw things to keep them away, etc. He’s housetrained other than he did try marking in the house a couple of times but they sent a belly band home with him and after wearing that for a few days he’s been okay. Our dogs have been very accepting of him but he is scared of Lestat and Strider. I don’t think he’s been around big dogs much before, he’s fine with the other small dogs but he’s intimidated by the big ones. He’s getting more comfortable with them and less scared. He has been such a sweetheart and he is very smart. He pays a lot of attention to us, constantly looking to see where we are. In the yard he doesn’t even care about trying to get out, he acts just like the other dogs. He’ll go out and investigate some but he could care less about the fence line. So I doubt he was a runaway that got out of the yard or something. He’s definitely a comfort doggie, I think his favorite thing to do is sleep on the couch preferably on a pillow.
Cupid came home Friday evening and I just can’t even describe her. She’s the cutest little puppy, she’s almost hairless because of the mange; she has to wear a cut up sock to stay warm because of that. She’s too tiny for any of the sweaters I have for the other dogs. And I think she may be mixed with Dachshund because she’s almost a miniature version of Holley but with a lot more wrinkles. She’s also underweight so she just looks like this teeny tiny little scrawny hairless puppy. She is so sweet too. She definitely loves to be held and attention. She’s also already learned to use a pee pad and she has not had a single accident in the house. When she needs to potty she goes to her pad. I think she’s going to be very smart. The other dogs didn’t know what to make of her at first. Holley was actually angry about her. She was okay with Danny but she was very upset about Cupid. Yesterday she finally broke down some and actually wanted to play with Cupid but then she got scared or something and didn’t. Cupid has had a hard time without her mom and siblings. The first night she cried a lot and last night she cried also. She has to sleep alone which makes me feel so bad, but she’s so tiny we could easily hurt her in our sleep and she could very easily fall off the bed and that could kill her. We set up a puppy pen for her and we turned up our heat for her as well so she’s definitely comfortable but she’s not used to having to be alone. During the day and evening we try to spend as much time with her as possible. I have found that if I wrap her up in a blanket fairly tightly it comforts her and she loves it.
We have decided to give them new names for the new chapters in their lives. Danny is now named Tango and Cupid is now named Arya. We had trouble finding a name for Tango and I was doing some online searching and came across an article that suggested listing like your favorite hobbies, tv shows, books, etc and then pick favorite names of out that. I started doing a list and when I came to interests and put down paranormal it made me think of the t.v. show Ghost Hunters and the name Tango came into my head. Arya came to us easily. Before she came home I kept referring to her as Little Princess and I kept saying she’s definitely going to be a little princess. But I have no doubt she won’t be a prim and proper princess. We’re both currently reading the Game of Thrones series by George. R. R. Martin and my husband suggested Arya since she’s royalty (I don’t think she’s a princess though, right?) and she’s a tomboy. I think she’s already learning her name also. She’s only 10 weeks old and within a day she’s already learned to use a pee pad for going potty and now when I call her name she often runs to me. Tango is definitely learning his name, a couple more days and he’ll have it totally down.
This could probably be another blog post but I want to write it here as well because it did influence our decision to adopt also. When we used to foster the holidays were always the hardest time. A lot of volunteers cut back on volunteering or foster homes will not foster because they are busy with buying presents, holiday parties, and all the other festivities of the holidays. Because of that it would make it harder to find spots for animals about to be killed. We always wound up taking in several more dogs before Thanksgiving and before Christmas. One dog we took in the night before Thanksgiving was on the table about to be euthanized and something about her broke through to the shelter staff and they couldn’t do it. This shelter was euthanizing all the dogs except those on the required three day stray hold because they didn’t want to take care of them over the long Thanksgiving weekend. They called the rescue I was fostering with and my case manager just happened to be in that city. She didn’t take small dogs because she only did large ones and was nervous about trying to mix little dogs with large dogs since you don’t know their personalities when you take them in. Lestat and Strider have been raised with small dogs and they are amazing with them, so I had no problem taking in small dog fosters. My case manager picked her up and brought her over. I named her Merry since it was the holidays. I’ll never forget learning about some shelters doing this. Merry came moments from be euthanized because people didn’t want to care for her over Thanksgiving weekend. This is why the holidays depress me. I always think of the countless animals in shelters that will die before Thanksgiving and before Christmas because people find them a nuisance to care for during the holidays. Isn’t the holidays supposed to be about love, compassion, charity, caring? Why does this happen then? Are parties, festivities, gift buying, etc really more important than the lives of others?
Since we adopted Tango and Arya I’ve been thinking about all those faces I saw at my city humane society. Some of them won’t be adopted and will be euthanized. People often seem to think humane societies don’t kill but some of them do. Since the holiday season is supposed to be about caring and giving, if you have the time and the financial resources to do so, please consider adopting a cat or dog this holiday season. With all the home foreclosures and the financial crisis the rates of animals being surrendered and euthanized is going up. I can’t think of a better gift to give than saving someone’s life. My husband and I are not buying each other anything this year. Our gift this year to each other and to Tango and Arya was adoption.
Seven years ago we also adopted Tisha for Christmas. She was one of our foster dogs and I had fallen in love with her and when I put her profile up on petfinder.com for adoption I cried for hours and wound up pulling down her profile. I’ve always been fairly against getting animals for Christmas because for so many it is an impulse idea or they are just getting a puppy for their kid and not thinking about the long term responsibility and of course they are almost always going to a breeder or a pet store. But if you have been thinking about opening your heart and home to someone in need I really can’t think of a better time of the year. If you can’t adopt please think about giving a donation to a rescue. Rescues are always in need of financial support along with volunteer support.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Tonight we got to pick up the puppy so once again we got home late. I didn't want to spend the money on take-out again so I cooked up a quick meal of chickpeas and artichoke heart masala and saag on the side. I put the masala over quinoa since I prefer that over rice. It's not the best picture because I'm not a good photographer and I only took one shot since I was in a hurry to eat dinner. We normally do a salad before but again with eating dinner so late tonight I skipped it and just had a bigger than usual portion of dinner.
Soon to come is a post about our two new friends!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I'm going to start trying to post up what I eat for dinner every night to show the variety of foods we eat. I won't be posting recipes but if it's from an online blog I'll post a link to it or if it's from a cook book I'll put down the author's name and the cookbook it came out of. Most of the recipes will also be gluten-free as I try to eat GF at home all the time and occasionally eat non-GF foods when I eat out. I really shouldn't ever eat it all but life's too short to pass up some damn good vegan foods sometimes.
Tonight our salad contained green leaf lettuce, carrot, radish, almonds and pomegranate. I had OrganicVille french dressing on the side for the lettuce.
For our main and side we had spaghetti with beanballs and collard greens. The pasta was quinoa pasta and for the beanballs I used brown rice flour instead of regular all purpose flour. The collards were cooked in water with lemon juice and diced garlic.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Then he kills domestic animals by the billion and eats them.
This in turn kills man by the millions, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer.
So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year, sends out cards praying for Peace on Earth.
David Coats, Old MacDonald's Factory Farm
www.predatordefense.org for cougar heads
www.farmsanctuary.org for slaughtered chickens
Wikimedia for the heart bypass surgery
www.nonhumanslavery.com for dog vivisection photo
www.onlyonesolutionsite.org for the cat vivisection photo
www.aboundlessworld.com for the photo of the starving children
www.designcrafters.com for the peace on earth card
Friday, November 18, 2011
A new Mercy For Animals undercover investigation , which just broke on Good Morning America , and will be featured this evening on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer and then profiled on 20/20, gives a never before seen look inside a McDonald's egg supplier - exposing the fast-food giant's secret ingredient: shocking cruelty to animals.
Hidden-camera footage, taken at Sparboe Egg Farm facilities in Iowa, Minnesota and Colorado, reveals:
Hens crammed into filthy wire cages with less space for each bird than a standard-sized sheet of paper to live her entire miserable life, unable to fully stretch her wings or engage in most other natural behaviors
Workers burning off the beaks of young chicks without any painkillers and callously throwing them into cages, some missing the cage doors and hitting the floor
Rotted hens, decomposed beyond recognition as birds, left in cages with hens still laying eggs for human consumption
A worker tormenting a bird by swinging her around in the air while her legs were caught in a grabbing device - violence described as "torture" by another worker
Chicks trapped and mangled in cage wire - others suffering from open wounds and torn beaks
Live chicks thrown into plastic bags to be suffocated
Veterinarians and animal welfare experts confirm what common sense already tells us: Egg-laying hens, like all animals, should be given the freedom to walk, stretch their limbs, turn around and engage in natural behaviors. Yet, this McDonald's supplier deprives hens of even these most basic freedoms. http://www.mcdonaldscruelty.com/experts.php
Barren battery cages are so cruel that the entire European Union and the states of California and Michigan have banned their use. Additionally, leading food retailers, such as Whole Foods, Hellmann's, Wolfgang Puck and Subway, and hundreds of colleges and universities refuse to use or sell eggs from hens subjected to the inherent abuses of battery cages.
MFA is calling on McDonald's Corporation to end its use of eggs from hens confined in battery cages in the United States, as it has already in the European Union.
Sadly, not a single federal law currently provides any protection to birds at the hatchery, on the factory farm, or during slaughter. Further, most states - including those in which this investigation was conducted - have sweeping exemptions for farmed animals, which allow abuses to run rampant without prosecution.
As the largest egg purchaser in the United States, McDonald's has enormous power in effecting improved standards of care for egg-laying hens. Click here to sign MFA's petition urging the fast-food chain to uncage hens. http://www.mcdonaldscruelty.com/take-action.php
While McDonald's has the moral obligation and purchasing power to lessen the cruelty suffered by the millions of hens who are abused and exploited to produce eggs for its restaurants, consumers also hold enormous power of their own in preventing animal abuse by adopting a compassionate vegan diet.
We have six hens and I absolutely can’t imagine them being put through these horrors. Each of our chickens has a unique personality like our dogs. They come running to me in the yard when I go outside just like the dogs. They follow me around the yard. They ask to be picked up, scratched, etc. When I’m not home much and I don’t spend much time with them they become clingy and will stare into the kitchen window watching me until I go outside with them. They know now that it’s cold out that they’ll get a warm meal before bed and they will wait up for their hot meal until it’s past dark out if I’m late with it. There have been times that I’ve gone outside when it’s dusky and they are talking away expecting their hot meal and I’ll tell them that I forgot and I’ll be back out in a bit and they will sit there and wait until I do come back out with it.
Regardless, even if they were the dumbest animals on earth, they still feel pain, they still want to feel the sun on their faces, scratch for bugs in the dirt, make their nests, raise their babies, and do all the chicken things that chickens do. In a factory farm they can’t even stretch out their wings. I’ve seen video footage of chickens trying so hard to dust bathe in these horrible cages and they can't. Dust bathing is a natural instinct for them to get rid of dry skin and parasites, and it's such a simple hygienic pleasure in life that is denied to them. Imagine having even the most basic of daily hygiene being denied to you. Four of my chickens came from someone keeping them for backyard eggs and he had them in this tiny little chicken tractor where there really wasn’t enough room for them to even dust bathe. The first time they got to come out the very first thing they did was dust bathe and one them bathed herself for almost an hour. You could see how much she was enjoying it. She was just one of the happiest chickens I’d ever seen at that moment. It made me cry because up until that point she had been denied something so basic and instinctual for a chicken. My heart breaks for the billions of chickens who suffer so greatly just for an egg mcmuffin or for some baked good with egg in it or for an omelet or for a chicken sandwich.
I would assume anyone reading this would never be okay with or want to have complicity in this sort of treatment towards dogs or cats, so why are these farms getting away with treating others like this? 10 billion land animals suffer these horrible cruelties and die horrific deaths every year in our farms and slaughterhouses here in the U.S. Roughly 9 billion of them are chickens. Can you imagine 9 billion chickens suffering through this every single year?
This is why I stopped eating eggs. I believe once we are aware of these abuses it is our moral obligation to end our complicity by no longer supporting these industries and speaking out for those who can’t speak for themselves. If we want to see the world become a more compassionate and fair world we absolutely must change and one of the largest positive impacts we can have is by changing what we choose to put on our plates.
To get a free veg starter kit click here. http://www.mercyforanimals.org/vegan-starter-kit.aspx
Learn more: http://www.veganoutreach.org/whyvegan/
And also: http://www.chooseveg.com/