OJ, MY BEAUTIFUL COG

OJ

OJ is three years old, weighs twenty pounds but not over weight, has long silky hair, golden eyes, and makes me laugh every day.  I call him my COG – a cat that thinks he’s a dog.  The most unusual cat I have ever had the pleasure to know.  He acts so different from my other five cats, or any other one I have ever had.

OJ was found living under one of the sheds on my property.  Probably had not been there long.  He appeared to be about four months old, very thin, ill, and had two large open wounds on his head and neck.  Looked like he had been mauled by a tom cat.  OJ was very frightened but, after a couple of days he allowed me to pick him up.

After a trip to the vet, his wounds required daily cleaning, medicating, and bandaging.  Of course this treatment required long periods in my lap, and included cuddling and snuggling.  OJ must have decided I was his mother because to this day he does not much like to be away from me.

If I go to another room he follows.  If I left an area without his notice he will meow, like he is calling me.  When I speak to him he comes running to where I am.  If I’m sitting down and pat my lap, he leaps up and goes to sleep.

If I go outside to work I say, “come on, let’s go to the garden”.  OJ jumps up and runs outside.  While I’m working in the flower beds he wanders off somewhere on the property.  But, when I call he comes running fast, like a dog will.

If he has been naughty I point and tell him to go to his bed.  He does.  Often turning his back on me like I’m the one being punished instead of him.

When I get ready to leave home he is shown my car keys, then he goes and lays in his bed.  He seems to know I will be gone, and apparently that is ok.  As soon as I come home he runs to greet me, meowing all the while until I speak to him.

One of the other five cats, Nick, is a five-year old male. He and OJ cannot be in the same area together.  Both have been neutered but, still they are territorial males and want to be dominant.  They must be kept separated. Unfortunately, OJ makes four of Nick and, the rare times they accidentally got together poor little Nick always got the short end of the stick.

At night OJ sleeps in his own private, heated shed.  He gets his dinner in the shed, has his pick of several beds, water, and a litter box.  About five o’clock each night he comes and seems to tell me it’s time for his dinner and bed.  If ignored he keep meowing and running to the door, as if to say, “come on, I’m hungry, want to eat and go to bed.”  He seems to require the “alone” time.  This winter, a few nights when the temperatures dropped below 10 degrees the shed heater couldn’t maintain the heat.  OJ slept in the house, but wasn’t happy, was very restless, and wanted to go to “his shed”.

OJ is a very entertaining cat.  He is a joy to be with every day and I look forward to what ever un-cat like action he does next.

 

 

 

STILL RAIN AND FROST – NOT SPRING YET

Today took a walk around my yard looking at the sad flower beds.  Spike helped by digging holes.  Guess he was checking to see if the soil was ready to work.  Not yet – too soggy.

DSCF0094  Spike is age 21, somewhat healthy, energetic, very regal and definitely the patriarch of my brood of six cats.

I’m anxious for March when a few warm days will arrive in our area.  Then leaf mulch will be removed from flower beds, soil turned, compost added with a very light sprinkling of organic fertilizer, and plants moved as desired.  This year that means removing and discarding old, worn out plants.  Particularly those that were neglected and died over the last few years.  After this activity the beds will percolate for a few more weeks, waiting for Spring.

The roses currently in the yard will be pulled and many discarded.  A few, with proper pruning, may be saved.  I love roses.  I love their colors, perfume, and particularly the climbing varieties.  Unfortunately in our humid summer temperatures black spot is a problem.  In the past I have tried a number of treatments but none were really successful.  The plants, always beautiful in late Spring, look so sad later with only a few flowers and stripped of all the leaves. Still, I will keep trying with new plants.

Today I noted hundreds of daffodils have poked their heads above ground.  A few even have tiny flower buds.  And, there is one lone crocus in full bloom.  What a delight!  Other plants are preparing to awaken, even though several more weeks of frost and/or snow are expected.

The tiny leaf tips of Day lillies appear in great numbers in many beds and the many Iris are putting forth new leaves.  The Heucherrlla, which were visable all winter, are beginning to look more perky.  The tiny round nubbins of sedum look so cute against the dark earth.  Even the Clematis shows sign of life.  Leaf buds poking out between last season’s dried stalks.  I didn’t dig Dahlia tubers the last few years and sadly, they all appear to have frozen.  I hope the Cannas fared better.

Well, my mood is so much uplifted after the garden walk.  All of the signs of new growth in the garden give me a feeling of joy and anticipation for the season ahead.  I have an overwhelming sense of hope!

That is all for now.  Take care, enjoy life, and have some fun!

 

I’M BACK!

Have been away quite a while dealing with medical issues, the death of my husband, and other personal challenges.  I sincerely apologize to everyone who sent comments to me.  I was remiss in acknowledging or thanking you for your ideas, suggestions, etc. and for that I am sorry.  Hope to do better in the future.

Looking forward to Spring and the joy of gardening.  The first major project will be to dig up the old bulbs, perennials, small shrubs and just about everything else.  The flower beds were neglected the last couple of years and must be totally refurbished.

The vegetable garden is also a ruin.  It will mostly be eliminated, leaving one small area for a couple tomato plants and a few new herbs.  Thinking of planting roses, although have had little luck with them in the past.

All this digging sounds like hard work, but good exercise.  Ouch!  That is ok.  I’m good for about two hours work each day.  At that rate, everything should be done by autumn.

By the way, anyone know of someone, some organization, or school that could use gardening books?  I have many more than needed – like 100 +!  Since I started gardening (about 40 years ago) I collected as many books as I could afford.  Now that my gardening days are winding down it would be great to donate the books to interested folks who would appreciate them and put them to use.  The books cover all gardening subjects – greenhouses, propagating plants, plant diseases, perennials, bulbs, annuals, shrubs – you name it, there is sure to be at least one book on the subject.  Some of the volumes could be collector finds, they are that old.  Happy to pass them on.

The second project for this year will be to replace steps to the back deck.  My husband purchased the boards before he died.  Just have to remove the old steps, cut the new boards to size and screw them down.  How hard can that be?  Piece of cake, right?  Hey, how do you turn on an electric saw?  Do they have a button, switch, what?  Just kidding! It will all work out.

That is all for this day.  Be sure to check out my new blog, Cherries and Lemons: The World Today.  One subject will be genealogy.  I have 25 years experience in genealogical research and the author of three family history books.  Perhaps I can answer questions you may have about tracking your ancestors.

Take care, enjoy life, and have some fun!

 

My Greenhouse

My Greenhouse

Tried to place this photo on my previous post. Didn’t work, so here is my
greenhouse that was referenced.

Fall Chores #1 – Greenhouse

I’ve been away for a while but now I’m back.

Cooler weather has arrived. Time to complete many garden chores in preparation for winter. The first important task is to get the greenhouse in order.  My greenhouse is 10’X12′; plastic waffle panels; four ceiling vents, purchased unassembled from Harbor Freight. My husband, brother-in-law and I took two days to assemble and install the house. It has been up four years and I have been extremely satisfied.

Over the years a few adjustments have been made in the greenhouse to combat the cold winter weather in our area.  Until the outside temperature reaches 25 degrees or under I heat the greenhouse with a small electric milk house heater working at medium, which keeps the temperature at 40-50 degrees.  Outside temperatures of 25 degrees and under I use a kerosene heater. It will run 12 hours on one gallon of kerosene.  Usually, once the sun comes out the supplemental heat is turned off. A very small fan, at roof line, runs continuously to circulate the air.  Using these heaters, and with the adjustments listed below, heating the greenhouse over the winter has been very inexpensive.

In researching kerosene heaters several references stated they should not be used in a greenhouse. If the house is air tight, I suppose this is good advice, however, mine is not. I allow outside air to come in through a small adjustment in two ceiling vents. Two out of the three past winters the kerosene heater was used with no ill effects to humans or plants. The third winter was mild and the kerosene heater was not needed. The kerosene heater should be in good working order, otherwise soot has a tendency to cover the plastic wall panels.

Originally no floor was installed. As the ground around the greenhouse froze it became very difficult to keep the inside temperature at 40-50 degrees. The second year a floor was installed consisting of landscape timbers laid crossways; the spaces filled with straw; and then the wood floor.  That alone increased the inside temperature by 5-7 degrees.

The roof peak on the greenhouse is 10′. A good portion of the heat goes to the ceiling. To combat that issue, in addition to the fan, plastic sheeting was installed over  the inside roof panels, except those with vents.  Light is still available to the plants but heat cannot escape and is circulated throughout the greenhouse. The back of the house is to the north; the left side faces west. Forest is around both back and west side, preventing sun shine reaching inside the greenhouse in those areas. Both remain colder in the winter.  Plastic sheeting was installed on those wall panels. The sheeting can be raised or lowered as needed.  The use of the plastic sheeting raised the temperature another 7-8 degrees.

I spent the last two days removing all roof panels, cleaning the aluminum framework; scrubbing the panels; and replacing each one with additional clips. Originally we only placed three clips on each side of the roof panels which allowed cold air to seep in. I now have six clips on each side which will decrease the flow of outside air to practically nil. It was necessary to replace one of the roof panels. Last winter’s snow caused the panel to cave in. This was not a defect in the plastic. It was my fault for not scraping the snow off the roof in a timely manner.

My husband, bless his heart, has now installed four automatic pneumatic openers/closers in the ceiling vents. The last three winters I have had to climb a ladder each time a vent was to be opened or closed. The automatic opener/closers are a blessing!

Next, new plastic will be installed on the cleaned roof panels and replaced where needed on the wall panels.

Then, the floor will be swept; tables put into place; pots and soil to be used over the winter put in place; the greenhouse closed and fumigated.

While the greenhouse is fumigated all plants to be wintered over will be identified and sprayed with Capt. Jack’s Dead Bug organic insecticide, readying the plants for the winter.  Following the procedure of fumigating the greenhouse, pots and soil plus spraying the plants before placing in the greenhouse, I have never had a pest problem over the winter.

I hope the above information has been helpful to those who have, or are considering, a greenhouse.  If a greenhouse is being considered I strongly recommend the Harbor Freight house. Comes in three sizes, mine is the largest. Often can be found on sale. They are a challenge to construct but by following instructions exactly it can be done without too much difficulty.

First You Need Water…Emergency Preparedness

First You Need Water...Emergency Preparedness

This photo is of the Midwest flood of 2010. A lot of water but none to drink.

Now is the time to get a supply of drinkable water set aside for an emergency. A 5 gallon carboy costs about $6.00 in many supermarkets. When the carboy is returned a refill is about $4.00. If 5 gallons is too heavy, the carboys also come in 2 1/5 gallon size which is easier to carry if you have to leave your home.

A 5 gallon container will provide drinking water and water to cook with for three people for about one week. A family with children would need two 5 gallon carboys for about 1 week.

Storage is easy. In a closet, behind the couch or some corner out of the way.

Water for flushing toilets is easy and free. You will need two or three clean five gallon buckets with lids. Set them outside and let the rain fill the buckets. Once filled, place the lids on the buckets and tuck them someplace out of the way, inside the house or outside. By placing lids on these buckets ensures no dirt will get in the water and it can also be used to wash hands and face.

People can get by without food for a few days. They cannot get by very long without water to drink. In a natural disaster, or just an extended power outage, water may not be available for several days.

Plan now to ensure your survival tomorrow!

And Down Came the Rain

And Down Came the Rain

Tried to use this photo with my post “What Now”. Didn’t attach. This is the downpour I mentioned.

The Power is Gone…There is no Water…Now What?

Today we are having the most awful heavy rain storm.  I sat here listening to the sound of the rain on the roof, thankful to be somewhere safe and dry.  I began thinking of Katrina and Sandy.  Weather disasters happen anywhere at any time.  Fortunately, thanks to my husband, we are always somewhat prepared. However, there is much more we can do.

Are you prepared if disaster happens in your area? Tornado, hurricane, flood, fire, wind damage are all possibilities. Even power outages due to down lines can create havoc. Where would you go? What do you eat? How would you keep warm? Will you, your children, other loved ones and pets be safe? What can you do?

Prepare Now! Not only does prior Emergency Preparation make good sense but it is less costly. Finding food, shelter, gas and other necessities when disaster strikes is very costly, frustrating and frightening. And necessities may not be available during and after the disaster. And government agencies may not be able to get to you for three days to two weeks or more.  

It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment or home; in the city or country. Unless your home is damaged in the disaster you are safer staying home. Make a plan. Now is the time to prepare. Ask yourself, what would you and your family need to survive at least three days and possibly as much as two weeks.  Keep in mind if the power is out grocery stores will be closed; gas pumps won’t work; ice will not be available; and restaurants will be closed. Most likely motel units will be full and emergency services will deal with life threatening issues first.

The most basic things you will need are: Water, food,  required medications, shelter, clothing, emergency supplies. Tomorrow I will provide suggestions of what to obtain now; where and how to store; and information that should be part of your plan.

There are many internet sites available with information pertaining to Emergency Preparedness.  Some of the information would require a large cost outlay and would not be for everyone. However, most of the information is great and can be adapted to your individual needs.

Prepare now to be safe!

 

Surprise…I’m Back!

ImageSweetie was an old cat, large and gray, that came to live with us about 4 years ago. She appeared to have had a hard life. Based on her paunch she had had many kittens, two of which she brought to us; Miss Kitty, a long hair calico and Nick, a short hair gray that looked just like his mother.

Sweetie was fun to have around the garden. She had no interest in the birds or other critters that dropped by for a visit.  She preferred to lay stretched out in the sun. Her favorite position was on her back, letting the sun warm her white tummy. Every now and then I would reach under a shrub to pull weeds and her head would pop out as if to say “Boo, I scared you”.

Seven weeks ago Sweetie disappeared. We searched everywhere around our two acre property, looking in all the outbuildings to ensure she had not been locked inside and couldn’t get out. She normally didn’t stray far from the house but we searched around the neighborhood.  In the end we finally agreed she must have decided it was time to go to kitty heaven and went off to find a quiet place.  We were very sad as we missed her.

Last night we had a very heavy rain storm. While I was preparing dinner a small, skinny, gray cat came in the cat door and ran straight for the food bowls. Thinking it was Nick I went to give him a pat and wonder why he looked like a starveling. Amazingly it wasn’t Nick, it was Sweetie!  She looked at me, meowed as if to say “Surprise..I’m back” and proceeded to eat enough for three cats.

Where Sweetie has been for the last several weeks, and what adventures she has had will always be a mystery. She appears to be happy she is home and we are overjoyed to have her back as part of our family.

Never Give Up Hope!

ImageImage

Brugmansia in bloom!  Many years an attempt was made to grow this beautiful plant. The first year it rotted in the ground. I tried growing it in a pot. I watered, fertilized and talked to the plant.  It put on four leaves before it died. Tried a larger pot. Watered and fertilized but didn’t have time to talk to it. Slowly it grew. Spent the winter in the greenhouse. That spring and summer, slowly it grew. By the next winter the plant was 16″ tall.  The following spring it shot up to 4′. Planted in the ground it seemed to thrive but didn’t flower. “The heck with it” I said and left it in the ground over the winter.  After a couple of frosty nights I did put about 8″ of leaf mulch over the plant.  Was I surprised in late spring when the plant started to grow again!  And look at it now!  It is beautiful.  Maybe all it took was a little neglect. Will be interesting to see if it comes back next year.

Nick loves to sit on this post and watch the comings and goings in the garden. I have even seen him take a little nap, still sitting on the post.