Category Archives: Dog

Harvest Monday

July 29, 2013

We had an unusually long Spring and cool Summer this year in North Carolina. Because of this, we were able to enjoy many Spring veggies we normally have to go without. Typically, we are in the consistent 100s and high 90s in July and August. This year, we finally hit the mid 90s consistently in July.

I noticed, once it was in the mid 90s consistently, anything that was not a heat-loving plant stalled in its production. The tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, and corn are loving the mid 90s but the lettuce, carrots, and kale are not. That is not surprising. What is interesting is that the snaps are not producing as consistently either in the hot, hot weather. Good thing we planted pole beans as well so we are still eating beans nightly 🙂

I did not do a good job of taking pictures this week. I harvested the last of the potatoes this week, as well as blueberries, kale, and beans (snap & pole) but no pics.

Blueberries are officially over 😦 Adieu until next year! Hopefully, I froze enough to not have to buy any until next July. We’ll see – we sure do eat a lot of blueberries in our oatmeal, cereal, scones, muffins, and jam…

We harvested our first cucumber, our one red pepper, more snaps and kale. A deer ate into one of our corn ears 😦 I think it was a deer – all the teeth marks looked ‘flat’.

deer corn(deer teeth marks?)

corn & pepperThat was the whole reason we got the dog back! – to keep the critters out of the garden! I harvested some corn for supper last night but left the rest to get plump. This morning, I walked out to this:

full image(stalks fallen left & right) fallen stalk rippedcorn(corn shredded and eaten)

From what I’ve seen on the Internet, it is a raccoon. They say they will climb the stalks, making it break, and will shuck the husk, shredding it. This is exactly what happened. I have also read they do not like to climb stalks with bean vines on them and the corn with beans were not touched.

So, how do you train a dog to do her job at night, keeping the critters at bay? Would a cat do this (keep critters away at night)? I’m just not sure how to grow enough food for all 7 of us AND keep all the critters out. I thought a dog was the answer…Please someone tell me you’ve bdtd and have some wonderful advice for me!!!

Check out all of the wonderful harvests over at Daphne’s Dandelions today 🙂

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End of June Budget Wrap-Up

July 4,2013

I never did a budget update for June. oops!

My husband gets paid every two weeks. This month, once the paycheck comes in, I have been doing a BIG grocery shopping trip – trying to buy everything needed for two weeks. Then, normally a day or two before he gets paid again, we need a few more things (like fruit). I was able to stick to the budget doing this and had a little extra for unforeseen costs (paying to get into a park and medicine).

I have already gone shopping for the first two weeks in July and I am hoping to have enough extra money to pay to spay the dog…Yes, I said it. We have gone back & forth on this dog thing for about a month now.

My husband wanted to retrain her after she killed a chicken and we were set to get her back a couple of weeks ago (my MIL has been keeping her for us, trying to find a home for her but has been unable to) but then we realized we had to get her spayed…and did not have the money to do so. We told his mother we would take her to the pound this weekend.

I was never really big on having her to keep the chickens safe anyway as our coop and chunnel are really safe on their own. However, as soon as the dog was no longer with us, I noticed bunnies in our garden…A LOT. I decided to put soap in the garden but with all the rain, it was not helping much. Then, the other day we picked some carrots. My son pulled a HUGE one and we saw it was halfway chewed on by a mole (or gopher or whatever).

eatenThis is when I talked to my husband about getting the dog back. Yesterday, there was a fox in the blueberry patch and the decision was made. Dog is coming back.

I was always against getting a dog and after the dog killed a chicken, I was even less thrilled. However, I am trying to all but eliminate the grocery bill by having chickens and a garden so if we can keep the dog away from the chickens and the dog can keep all the other critters away, AND we have a way to pay to get her spayed, I am all for a helpful member of the family 🙂

So, how did I go grocery shopping for two weeks and only spend $120 for seven people (when I normally spend $250)? The garden! We have been getting all of our lettuce and carrot needs from garden this month. We have also been getting green beans (snaps) and blueberries galore from the garden all month and most of our kale has come from the garden.

In addition to all of this, we have signs of more produce: baby zucchini, tomatoes, bell pepper, corn, and cantaloupe (or spaghetti squash), and more kale, lettuce, carrots, and snaps – so I am hoping our grocery bill can stay low during the summer months and that money can go towards paying down debt (except for this month, in which that money will pay for the dog to be spayed)!

bell pepper baby zucchini baby tomatoWe have been on the cash system and have not used a credit card since February of this year. We have paid about 30% of our debt and have not incurred any more (that’s BIG for us).

We actually do not have a date for when we expect/want it to be paid off. From my husband’s part time job, we are able to pay our monthly expenses, by God’s grace. Anything else extra (from my part time job or from him booking weddings) goes straight towards paying down more debt. Because this extra income is so sporadic, we do not know when to expect this to happen. We are just trying to stay faithful not using credit cards and staying within or below our budget and we look forward to the day we will be debt free! 😀

How are your budgets going? Anything I can list specifically that may help you to keep a tighter grocery budget?

Harvest Monday

June 10, 2013

Because I covered the potato plants w/more mulch instead of just trusting the process, most of the potato plants died. So, today I took the opportunity to go ahead and dig around to see what was left. This is what I harvested. This is from about half of the plants. I am going to make MANY LARGE notes to myself to show quite a bit more patience next year!

potatoesI also harvested A LOT of beautiful lettuce, as it is getting hot and I don’t want it to bolt.

lettuceThe kale is looking pitiful. I got this harvested and I am going to plant some more this week but I think all hope may be lost for getting more kale until the fall.

kaleI harvested some more peas as well – enough for each child to have a small pod or half of a large one.

I am linking up to Daphne’s Dandelions this week for Harvest Monday.

We had two days of rain this weekend and ended up with just shy of 5″ altogether. The corn and some of the tomato plants needed to be propped up a little but other than that, the garden was unfazed. The mulch just soaked it up!

The rain did affect another part of our lives, however. After finding no where to get out of the rain, the poor, soaked dog was itching to go out and play. As soon as the sun came out after two days, she decided her playmates would be…the chickens. Which resulted in our first chicken loss…and subsequently, dog loss.

My mother-in-law came and took the dog. I was very glad to be rid of her. I was overwhelmed with having a dog, frankly. However, when my MIL found someone to take the dog, my husband wanted to take her back. He figures we’re just going to have to start over again with another dog – might as well just keep the one we have. If she kills another one, she is definitely out, but he wants to give her another try.

Previous to this incident, she got into the chicken tunnel quite a bit but never messed with the chickens – she just wanted to play with their new toy. When they would free range she never bothered them at all once we trained her not to. I was never worried about her around the chickens. And I think her killing one was fully because she was going stir crazy. However, now I’m very nervous that she will do it again.

We are going to build her a ‘run’/kennel where she will have plenty of room to roam. The plan is to put her in it when we are inside the house and let her out whenever we’re out and about so we can make sure she will not mess with the chickens.

What do you think? Do you think giving her another shot is foolish? I DO NOT want to lose another chicken, for sure. But she has a great temperament and obeys pretty well for being so young – so I hear where my husband is coming from. Anyone kept a dog after it killed a chicken? What are your experiences?

Update on a Little Bit of Everything…

May 16, 2013

This spring, we did not have to cover our blueberries because of a frost. Typically, here in NC, we have a very warm week or so in March. This will make our 30-some blueberry bushes bloom as well as our other fruit trees. Then, in April, we will have one or five nights of freezing weather and we’ll have to go cover everything. It is also extremely windy so half of the covers won’t stay on, regardless of how many clothes pins we use to keep them in place. This results in mild to great losses in fruit production.

This year, winter stuck around quite a bit longer than normal so there was not as much fluctuation in temperatures. It was nice not having to cover the fruiting plants but what is even nicer is how prolific they are looking right now!

Katy Blog3My next conundrum is how to keep the kids off of them. I would like to be able to harvest & freeze enough to not have to buy any frozen blueberries throughout the year. We eat them in smoothies, in our oatmeal and in our cereal. We also LOVE blueberry jam but I’m not sure we’ll have enough to do all of that.

The question is…how do I keep the kids from stealing my blueberries?! Do I give them each a bush and let them eat from their bush but not touch any other bush? (I can see my 2yo stealing blueberries from other bushes) Do I tell them for every one they pick, they have to put one in the bowl to keep? What I would like to do, of course, is just make them stay away so I can make sure everything is harvested properly…is that too controlly? Whatcha think?

I mentioned in my previous post that the chickens are free ranging now. Not the whole day because we’re not outside the whole day but about half of the day. The dog pesters them now and again but she listens to us pretty well when we tell her not to chase them. She has a good temperament and is pretty quick to learn and obey…me.

Katy Blog4I’ve trained her to not chase the chickens (she’ll just sit there as they free range around her) and to lay next to me while I work in the garden (not meander and get into trouble). The next big thing is to teach her our property lines so we don’t have to crate her when we leave the house – so we don’t have to worry about her wandering off.

The kids don’t know how to handle her – she’s just a puppy so she wants to play but she plays by biting their shorts and pulling them down – they’ll learn or she will learn. I’m sure it will get better one day 🙂

Next, I’ll have an update about my poor, pitiful beans, my corn, and lots of my greenhouse transplants.

I’m linking up to Simple Lives Thursday.

D.O.G.

May 4, 2013

Well, it happened! We got a dog.

My husband has been wanting to get two dogs for a while in order to keep the children & chickens safe and so they could have companionship. I have been quite reluctant.

The other day, a friend of ours found a puppy on the side of the road and my husband volunteered to take it. She is a beagle/shepherd mix and is as cute and sweet as can be.

alice

This is my first dog ever so I am clueless. We got some puppy chow at the store and she did not eat any. I think it is just because of the stress but because she wasn’t eating, I looked up some things…including the ingredients on the back [yikes!].

Grain, grain, some meat ‘mix’, and more grain. Did someone miss the memo that dogs are carnivores? Hmmm.

She doesn’t like it at all but guess what – the chickens do! Imagine that…

I am going to try to put her on a more natural diet of meat & veggies little by little. Right now, she is loving milk and today started eating a bit of the puppy chow. I am going to try to add in some egg, meat, and veggies as she seems to have more of an appetite.

My sister-in-law is a self-taught dog trainer (her grandmother was a wonderful dog trainer) and has volunteered to come over and help us out in that area.

yawn

We want the dog to be able to be around the chickens without eating (or messing with) them and I do not want her in the garden. I would also like to train her to poop in the woods and train her to stay on our property so she does not need to be fenced in. I’m sure this is a tall order but I figure you have to at least start with a goal 🙂

boys

After I fed her this morning, I went to let the chickens out of the coop. I let her come into the run with me, just to see what would happen, and she did great. She stayed on my heels as I gave the chickens our compost and when I came out, she followed me out. I hope it stays this easy 😉

lay

This afternoon, she followed me to the garden. As long as I stayed on the path, she didn’t go into the garden. She did try to climb into one of the raised beds but I took her front paws out, told her no, and she laid at my feet while I picked kale & spinach. I think keeping her out of the garden will be harder (at least not digging it up) than teaching her how to protect the chickens, mainly because it is such a large area. We’ll see.

look up

Anyone with chickens & a dog have any tips for us?