Friday, October 31, 2008

They are late

We have an annual event that usually occurs in early October. We know the date because our daughter's birthday is then and eveytime we've had a party (beginning our first year here) we've been informed of the arrival.

I'm talking about skunks. For some reason in the fall they take up residence near or under our house. Apparently they also decide who gets to mate with whom at this time and spraying scent is part of the ritual.

This year it didn't happen until last night. I don't know what delayed their arrival. I can't even blame warm weather because we've had hotter Octobers and they were here by the first week in October. No matter, they may be late, but they are here. And our olfactory senses are going to get their annual work out.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Forget caffine if you want to wake up. Buy a tiny bottle of eau d' skunk at a joke store. If you need to be wide awake, uncap and sniff. You WILL wake up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Friend in Need

The various buttons on the left of my page are there because one of my fellow writers is in need. She is a full time writer who lives in Nebraska. Most full time writers have erratic incomes at best.

In this particular instance winter is coming on and her house needs some serious, major repairs to make it safe for its inhabitants during the harsh Plains' winter.

If you will click on these buttons and check out the products you may find something of interest. Several of her books being offered are fiction. For the next few weeks all the moneys for any of the books listed will be given to her.

I hope you find a book or two that will appeal to you. And please pass this on to anyone you think might find something of interest on the site.

Thanks folks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fleas and other pet quandries

I can't remember a worse flea season since 1973. Is it significant that was the first time we had a problem with fuel prices jumping, jobs shrinking, and problems that seemed insurmountable at the time?

I don't know but this weekend I decided enough was enough. I went to Callahan's a source for good animal advice I've turned to since I moved into the Central Texas area in 1971. Mr. Callahan (one of 'um) advised that I use a certain dip for the animals. He had a combination he recommended for the house and kennels.

I prepared the dip for the cats and captured one cat at a time to dip.

"Don't you believe her. She was trying to drown us. She held us in that nasty smelling liquid for hours. Then she poured it over our heads, and rubbed it all over our faces, getting it in our ears and eyes and mouths. Obviously she was attempting catacide." Frisky, Little Bit, Mittens, Flash and Kewtie Pi

NOT! I was very careful to keep the dip out of their eyes, ears, nose and mouth.
They were a sorry looking bunch when I finished though. Talk about the "drowned cat" look.

Making fun of us in our time of troubles. Typical of her. It took hours to dry and fluff our fur and this morning we STILL stink of that awful smelling stuff.

It does take a lot more time for cats to dry than most dogs. Blarney, our half Husky, is an exception. The cats were dry before he was. I expect some revenge to be perpetuated on me and my stuff today.

Oh, little does she know! After all that grooming we have an excellent supply of hair to hack up.

I also decided to take on the new pet I wrote about earlier. I'll post further reports about how that is working out.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Making Do

During the seventies when we had high (for then, compared to our income) gas prices, higher inflation, and high unemployment we went green. Not that we called it that then, but because of the times it made sense to have a garden, keep chickens for eggs and have dairy goats for milk and cheese.

We learned a lot in those years. My mother-in-law lived with us and she was a young woman when the Great Depression started. My own mother was the same age and my grandmother was still raising young children when to bottom fell out of the economy. They all had some superior ways to survive tough times.

One of the first suggestions my MIL came up with was that we think about using cloth dish towels and table napkins instead of relying on paper products. A quick check showed that the towels and napkins could be tossed in the wash without and wouldn't increase expense by using more water and detergent. In turn that was an extra one hundred dollars a year saved, not to mention a number of trees. So even then green and saving money were mutually compatable.

We already had a small garden to supply some of our fresh vegetables. Since we did live in the country I began researching the idea of keeping a few chickens and rabbits. A friend immediately gave me the rabbits left over from her youngest son's FFA project, one buck and two does. They supposedly didn't reproduce and she didn't want to know what happened to them.

What happened was that since I didn't have rabbit hutches we put up a small A-frame shelter and fenced an area around it. The rabbits were turned loose and other than food, water and cleaning the pen left alone. A month later one of does had 8 bunnies. A couple of days later the second doe had eight as well. Doing pretty good there for non producers.

In the mean time I'd added a few chickens to the mix and learned that if you want eggs you'd better pay the extra money for hens. A mixed run of chicks yielded ten roosters and two hens. I couldn't bring myselt to butcher the roosters at first but once they began attacking us and using their spurs (we are talking stitches here folks) I changed my mind. We had them stewed because they were far too tough to eat anyother way.

We also purchased a couple of dairy goats, Nubians. I like goats. They are wonderful animals. But by the time we were through we had our Ph.D's in fencing. Goats require the very best fencing to keep them confined. Otherwise you might turn around one day and find them in your living room, looking for you. They did provide wonderful milk and cheese for a number of years. In a way I hated to give them up when we moved into town, but they were a lot of work.

I did not realize it while I was growing up but it is possible to grow a lot of food on a very small lot. We had a 40' by 60' lot in the middle of town with a large house on it. My grandmother protected us against the whims of fate by having yard that was almost completely edible.

Nearly every plant was in some way a food plant. We had a nice peach tree in the backyard. There was a fig tree in the sideyard. She canned these fruits and made jam from them as well. We also had pyracanthia which produces wonderful red berries around Thanksgiving and Christmans time. These make a good jelly as well. There were rose bushes that produced large rose hips; a fruit that is very high in vitamin C. She had pepper bushes that gave her peppers she would pickle in vineger. She also had various lilies that produced edible tubers of some sort. there was a speckled bean that she planted every year that wound its way up a pecan tree (nuts are a good source of oil and protein) and they would produce enough beans to provide meals for the next year and still leave some seed for replanting.

Since San Antonio Texas was aminable to keeping small livestock (and still is, you can keep a few hens even now) within the city limits we always had a couple of hens. Every Easter we would go to the Sears and Roebuck farm store and buy several chicks. Grandma didn't hold with the dyed chicks in the five and dime stores, but she'd always let me get some pretty Rhode Island red chicks or some Domineckers which were black and white. I got to raise them as pets and then they gave us eggs.

I think it may be time to brush off all these old tricks and update them for our modern world. The next couple of years may be as interesting as the thirties and seventies were.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Look around your place and see if there are ways you can insure you and your family have basic needs met even in the toughest of times.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New Pet

I am seriously considering taking on a new pet. I got this from a friend and am still debating pros and cons.


Of the recipes for homemade sourdough starter the we tried, we had the best results with Nancy Silverton’s from Breads from the La Brea Bakery (Villard, 1996).

The recipe below is a slightly abbreviated and simplified version of her recipe. You will need an instant-read thermometer, cheesecloth, and a 1-gallon container (ideally, one with a lid). Make sure that your hands and all utensils that come in contact with the ingredients are clean. Use King Arthur, Hodgson Mill, or Heckers/Ceresota all-purpose flour or Gold Medal or Pillsbury bread flour. Make sure to use filtered or bottled water; chlorinated tap water may affect the development of the culture. The starter will be ready to use in about 2 weeks.

Directions For starter culture 1 pound pesticide-free organic red or black grapes, unwashed
32 ounces (4 cups) cups filtered or bottled water, about 78 degrees
19 ounces (about 3 3/4 cups) unbleached flour with 11 to 13 percent protein content
For refreshing the cultureFiltered or bottled water
Unbleached flour with 11 to 13 percent protein content
Day 1:Set bunch(es) of grapes on large double-layered piece of cheesecloth. Tie opposite corners together to form a bag around grapes.
Combine water and flour in 1-gallon container with lid and stir with rubber spatula until evenly moistened.
Hold cheesecloth-wrapped grapes over container and squeeze them lightly with your hand, allowing juices to fall into container.
Place grapes in container; use rubber spatula to stir mixture and then fully submerge grapes. Cover container with lid or with plastic wrap secured with rubber band.
Let container stand at room temperature (70 to 75 degrees).
Days 2 to 3:Mixture should form bubbles.
Day 4:Mixture should form large bubbles and smell alcoholic. Refresh mixture by stirring in 1 cup flour and 1 cup water, about 78 degrees. Replace cover and continue to let stand at room temperature.
Days 5 to 9:Mixture may appear separated, with liquid rising to top. If mold forms, remove it, then stir in 1 cup flour and 1 cup water.
Days 10 to 14:(Triple daily feeding begins.) In morning, remove bag of grapes, squeezing to extract liquid; discard grapes. Stir mixture well, then pour off and discard all but about 2 cups (amount you discard can be reserved and turned into additional starters, if desired).
First feeding: Stir in 1 1/4 cups flour and 1 cup water, about 78 degrees. Cover and let stand at room temperature 4 to 6 hours.
Second feeding: Stir in 2 1/2 cups flour and 2 cups water, about 78 degrees. Cover and let stand at room temperature 4 to 6 hours longer.
Third feeding: Stir in 5 cups flour and 4 cups water, about 78 degrees. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 to 15 hours.
Repeat process next 4 days, pouring off all but 2 cups before feeding begins.
Day 15:Starter is ready to use; it should form bubbles and should smell yeasty and nutty.

This might not be much more trouble than a puppy or kitten. At least that is what I am telling myself. Of course, I could also use the results as Chirstmas gifts...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

We Got Armadillos

In case you don't recognize it the title is a misquote from the movie Twister. "We got cows."
Any way the other night the dogs went off. They were barking so hysterically that Larry decided to go see what they were fussing about.

We had a cute little armadillo trundling about the yard completely unfazed by the dogs. This is the first time I've seen one on this place. We also now have a healthy squirrel population. I'm not sure what that's all about. They like to throw pecans at the dogs. We have always had opossums, rabbits and skunks; not to mention house snakes.

When we looked at the house the first time Larry opened the door to the cubbyhole the water lived in and said "No leaks. Mouse on top." and closed the door. The real estate rep had hysterics. She was not fond of mice.

Since then we learned our place is home to pack of coyotes, and are on the path of migrating cougars that, in dry years, come up to the barn to drink out of the troughs. Great Horned owls spend the winter in the loft of our barn. Red tailed hawks and Red shouldered hawks are regulars in the spring. They have the place neatly divided and return to their nesting spots each year.
Great blue herons and cattle egrets also use the place to nest. When the shooting starts in the fall we quickly are the place of choice for the doves.

Sometimes I feel as if we are running a private wild life preserve around here. It's pretty cool.

Friday, October 10, 2008


All day yesterday the cats insisted on living on our bed. They would leave for a few minutes and then having fed, drank or used the litter box be right back on the bed.

Since we had a bit of a cool night and the house was was a tad chilly I didn't really think much about this.

Until I got ready for bed and turned the covers back.

I had a present. Now when cat people say that they frequently mean that their cat used the bed as a litter box or hacked up a hair ball. This time was a little different.

Cuddled under the cover was a baby gecko. It was all of an inch and a half long. It quickly scurried under the pillows.

I called Larry. This wasn't because I couldn't pick up the little lizard and move it myself, but because it was so cute I wanted him to see it.

We admired the little thing for a few minutes and then finally caught it and, to the cats disappointment, put it outside.

Under those circumstances it was cute and funny. Had I not noticed the lizard and had it crawled on me during the night...

Lazy Trainer Tip: Checking the bed before crawling into it might be a good idea; especially if your cats are really interested in it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dog's Best Friend

Last night on the news was a story about a Rat Terrier named Jake. As you all know I am a fan of the breed and not too surprised to hear one got in trouble with a shark.

Jake, who lives in Florida, went for a swim in the ocean. A shark decided he'd be a tasty snack. Jake's owner jumped in and by beating on the shark managed to make it let go of Jake.
Jake has some severe bites, but is doing well.

One news anchor commented that she bet Jake wouldn't go back in the water. Knowing Rat Terrier the way I do I wouldn't bet on that. I would not be surprised if I read next year that Jake has taken up shark hunting.

Here is the AP link to Jake's story.