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Soaking up the Sun

February 28th, 2011

Yesterday was a beautiful day here at Chiot’s Run. We saw the sun, the weather was warm, up around 40 and the snow and ice we got earlier in the week was melting off. This is the time of the year when you really start to notice that the days are getting longer. The sun is higher in the sky and feels warmer when you’re outside. Since it was so nice, I put a flat of lettuce seedling on the front porch in the afternoon to harden off. I also left them out overnight so they could get used to temps a little colder than their basement home.

They’ll be planted out in my cold frame someday later this week if I have a warm day without rain. The nice thing about planting in spring is that you don’t have to worry as much about hardening off as far as the sun goes. The cold however is a different story I find. My front porch is perfect for hardening off, it gets the afternoon sun. The concrete floor warms in the sun and will keep seedlings warmer in the spring so I don’t have to worry about them freezing or getting nipped by frost.

The greenish yellow lettuce is ‘Little Gem’ from Burpee and ‘Sea of Red’ lettuce from Renee’s Garden is the reddish lettuce. I sowed this flat on January 18th, and had first germination on the 21st. I also sowed ‘Rouge Genobloise’ which didn’t germinate very well and ‘Sanquine Ameliore’ lettuce which didn’t germinate at all, both of these were from Baker Creek. I’m not sure what happened with these, I’m going to try sowing another flat with them. Perhaps I just got a bad batch of seeds, which happens on occasion.

Do you have a favorite spot for hardening off seedlings? Are you planting anything in your garden yet?

Real Food is the Foundation of Life

February 27th, 2011

Nothing on this planet can grow, live, thrive, or flourish without real food. When we eat real, wholesome, healthy, and natural food, like chicken and vegetable stew, we support every single one of our biological systems at a deep, cellular level and bolster the body’s innate abilities to heal itself and resist disease and degeneration. This holds true for people, plants and animals.

Andi Brown – The Whole Pet Diet

This week we’re kicking off the 2011 Real Food Challenge over at Not Dabbling in Normal, head on over and join us. During this year’s challenge I’m going to be talking about Real Food for pets. I’ve been reading a few books about cooking for your pet, the one above being my favorite so far. I’ve been wanting to transition our pets to a Real Food diet, so I thought the challenge would be the perfect time to do it.

Lucy already gets homemade food on occasion and she LOVES it. She gets all the venison from the previous year after hunting season fills the freezer with a fresh batch. All the deer offals make it into her bowl as well, she’s particularly fond of these, as are the cats. We also give her raw meaty bones sourced from local pastured beef farm. Lucy is also a big fan of homemade dried squash leather treats and bacon which I make for her.

Even though we feed our pets good quality pet food, it will be interesting to see how the pets do when eating Real Food. I’m sure they’ll be much healthier just like we are when we eat real food instead of processed. We’re also in the process of transitioning Lucy from a synthetic thyroid pill to an herbal one and she seems to be doing much better on it. I think the Real Food diet will really help her with this problem and help her age with fewer problems.

Have you ever made food for your pets?

My Tiny Cactus Garden

February 26th, 2011

When I was a kid, my mom often had a cactus garden in the living room. It usually consisted of a few tiny cactuses in a wide shallow pot, a little gravel road, an a tiny clay chiva. A Chiva is a traditional Colombian bus that is used in the rural regions. It is painted up in the colors of the flag and was always packed to overflowing with people, chickens, bananas, plantains, and all sorts of other things.

I wanted to start my own miniature cactus garden for my dining room table. I was going to buy some small cactus as the greenhouse, but then I spotted this pack of seeds at the hardware store for only $1.19. I figured I’d give it a whirl and try starting my own tiny cactuses from seed.

I wasn’t hoping for much, I’ve heard they can be difficult to start from seed. I started by filling a seed flat with a mix of equal parts potting soil and coarse sand. On February 13th I sprinkled the cactus seeds on top and lightly worked the top of the soil. Then I sprayed well with water, covered it with a plastic dome, and put it down on the heating mat in my basement seed starting area. I checked the flat daily and sprayed it with water when the top of the soil dried out (which happens quickly when you have things on a heating mat). Seven days later, on February 21, I noticed three tiny cactus seedlings in the flat.

These seedlings are TINY. They’re very hard to spot, especially since they look a lot like the larger pieces of sand. You can see in the photo below, I used a very small sewing pin to show scale. I thought it would help show you how tiny these plants really are. Right now I have 8 tiny cactus seeds that have germinated. I wonder what varieties I’ll have when they grow up?

I’m super excited about these tiny seedlings. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to grow big enough to plant in a cactus garden to surround the small chiva. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how these do.

Have you ever had a cactus as a houseplant?

Friday Favorite: A Little Unusual

February 25th, 2011

I’m a very eclectic person, I have hobbies and interests that span a wide area. Most people know that I love to garden, cook, sew and all kinds of things like that. But I also have a few things that you might find unusal that I enjoy. For one I love Jay-Z music, I know not what you’d expect from me. Another one of the things I love is playing a computer game called Diablo 2 with Mr Chiots.

We used to play the original Diablo when it came out years ago. We were super excited when Diablo II came out and we’ve been playing it over and over again while patiently waiting for 11 YEARS now for Diablo III to come out. We’re not sure if it ever will. You may find it funny that in the game I’m always a Barbarian.

I was badly in need of a new mouse pad, so Mr Chiots got me this awesome Diablo III Barbarian mousepad. What kind of character was on my previous mousepad? Hello Kitty of course, another one of my loves.

What’s a hobby or interest do you have that people might be surprised about?

The Face Behind the Name

February 24th, 2011

People always ask me “What is Chiot’s?” Then I tell them the story of how we went to the local pound to get a dog a few months after we bought this house. We spotted this tiny brown lab mix puppy. We picked her above any of the other puppies because in the pound filled with barking dogs, her mom simply stood in her kennel with her puppies and looked at us, almost begging us to take one of her babies. All the other dogs were barking, jumping up on the kennel fences, and running around their kennels. We knew if this tiny puppy had part of her mom’s personality, she’d be a great dog. We paid $8 for her dog tag, put her in a box, and she rode home on my lap. She spent that night and the next few fighting off Parvo, while we prepared ourselves to lose our first dog only a few days.

Miraculously she pulled through and grew quickly into a rambunctious 70 pound dog that tore around the garden at full speed. We started calling her “Chiots” because her puppy food had that on it, chiots is French for puppy (we pronounce it Chee-oats). Hence the name “Chiot’s Run”.

She’s also lovingly referred to also as: the brown chiots, brownie, the brown one, miss brownie brownstone, the stinky chiots, the luce, limpy (from her injury), flandy and a few others.

Lucy grew into the most wonderful dog. She’s kind and tenderhearted, obedient, and would never hurt a flea. She allows the cats to be dominant in the house, and she even give Miss Mama and Little Softie a wide berth in the garden. She’s gentle as can be, even with our first niece who was a wee baby when when Lucy was a puppy. She has always been good, has never eaten any shoes, torn up anything besides a kleenex, and only had one or two accidents while being potty trained. She once did “prune” one of my clematis vines right before it bloomed. That’s not to say she didn’t give us grief when she was in her puppy stage and full of energy. There is still a brick burring in one part of the garden where she used to LOVE to dig (FIY burying a brick really does work, at least it did with Lucy)

Lucy is going to be turning 9 here in the next few weeks, it’s hard to believe we’ve had her for so long. She’s been living here in this house with us for almost the entire time we’ve lived here. Our nieces and nephew LOVE her as does everyone that ever meets her.

It’s becoming evident that she’s moving into the senior stage in her life. She’s happy to spend her days sunning herself on the front lawn and sleeping by our sides in the office while we work. She no longer has the boundless energy that she used to, and her injury makes it more difficult for her to get around as she gets older.

Did you know where Chiot’s Run came from before this post? Did you ever wonder what a Chiots was?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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