Would You Feed Your Pet Nothing But Potato Chips?

The other day the pavlovinator left us a little gift.  No, not in her litter box, and not that kind of gift.  She left us a cute little heart shape in the little bit of food she had left in her bowl.DSCN7914

This got me thinking that I should do a post about the type of cat food we feed her.  Most commercial cat foods are junk.  Just like potato chips.  In fact, pretty much any cat food you can buy at the grocery store is full of grain, chemicals, and fillers.  Not meat and vegetables like cats naturally eat.

We do use the brand Blue Buffalo to feed our cat, but other than that I have no affiliation with the company.  That being said, they do have a great article about reading pet food labels (cat and dog).

Among the main points are to look at the ingredient list of any pet food you are considering feeding to your fur baby.  If you see chicken by-product meal, poultry by-product meal, corn, or any chemicals then you should put the bag back and find something better.  Something better should include real meat, whole grains, and vegetables and fruits.

I haven’t done much research into feeding pets a raw diet because frankly, we can barely afford to buy organic meat for us to eat occasionally, much less feed a cat daily.  Also, I don’t really have the time or desire to prepare cat food ever day.  But it is another healthy option for the fur babies.

Basically, no matter what you decide to do, at least do your research.  If you love your pets like family, then treat their food with the same respect you treat the rest of your family’s food.  Read labels, research ingredients, learn industry lingo.

What do you feed your pets?

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Natural Fruit Fly Trap

Recently we have been plagued by fruit flies in our kitchen.  A combination of summer and our habit of composting causes this.  We wanted a way to deal with them that was cheap and didn’t use toxic chemicals so I made this trap.

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As you can see it was very effective.  Take a mason jar and pour a little bit of apple cider vinegar in.  Take a small piece of fruit, I used banana, and put it in, make sure part of it sticks out of the vinegar.  Put a drop of castile soap in to break the water tension.  I used our diluted lavender soap that we keep in the shower and it didn’t seem to cause a problem.  Then take a piece of aluminum foil and put it over the opening of the jar, poke a few holes in it with a skewer or fork and leave it near where the most fruit flies are.  It also helps to remove any other attractant, so our bananas are in the refrigerator for now.

 

Mosquitoes Love My Garden…and Me

We have a major infestation of mosquitoes in our garden.  I mean major.  While harvesting for 10 minutes, I probably killed about 20 mosquitoes trying to get at me.  I itch just thinking about it.  It is supposed to be really bad this year, probably because we have had so much rain, but this is ridiculous.Usually I spray on a bit of our homemade bug repellant, which does help, but there are a few problems with this method of dealing with the problem.  One, I (obviously) forget sometimes, and two, I would rather have multiple levels of protection.

I have heard tell of using plants such as citronella and marigold planted near where you will be outside.  Has anyone tried these plants with any success or have any other ideas of ways to keep the mosquitoes away?  Thanks!

The Writing Spider

I spotted this really cool spider web while harvesting grape tomatoes this morning.  After further research, it is the web of an Argiope aurantia otherwise known as the writing spider.

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The spider waits for her prey in the middle and some people theorize the zig zag design serves as camouflage for the spider but the actual purpose is unknown.  Other theories are that is attracts the bugs that the writing spider eats or that it alerts birds that there is a web there so they don’t fly into it and mess it up.  It could also be a mechanism for making the spider look larger than she is.

There are various species of orb-web spiders that have these stabilimenta in the center of their webs in various designs.  It is also rumored that E. B. White got the idea for Charlotte’s Web after seeing the stabilimentum of a spider web.  There are so many cool things that you can see if you just slow down and pay attention to nature.  What interesting things have you found in your garden?

Bunnies Love Sweet Potatos

Their leaves anyways.  If you recall, I had a bit of a battle on my hands over my sweet potato plants as the bunnies who live in my backyard kept eating them.  Apparently my dad has had the same problem with his sweet potatoes.  He had them in a cage from the start but apparently his cage was too small and the bunnies were eating a neat little circle where they could get to the plant through the cage.  Here’s a photo of some of the damaged stems, they are all around the outer rim of the plant.

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Anyways, he changed to a larger cage and now the bunnies truly can’t get to them.

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Beware if you plant sweet potatoes, the bunnies are coming.

Chickens Come Before Eggs

My dad has been trying to keep chickens.  He has a chicken tractor that they stay in at night, but they are let out during the day.

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Last year he had 6 and this year he got 4 more.  They were all gotten by either a fox, stray cat, or car.  The hero knew he was wanting to get more and while on his way to work he saw a yard sale that was selling chickens.  So my dad bought 2 hens for $5 each and got two eggs the day he bought them.  They are a bit more ‘gamey’ breed than he has had before so he hopes that they will be better at defending themselves.

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It’s been about a week since he got them and so far they have been doing great and at least one of them lays an egg each day.  He hasn’t let them out during the day yet so they haven’t had to survive in the wild yet.  Hopefully   they will do fine.  Especially because we get their extra eggs!

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Lots of Lilies

Apparently there are more lilies than the one I found the other day and already dealt with.

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I think clearing them out it going to be a larger scale effort than previously thought.  There’s a whole are of our side yard that is majorly overgrown and we’d like to be able to use.  The hero wants to clear it out and start from scratch.  There were some daffodils that we discovered when they bloomed earlier this spring, tons of thick honeysuckle, and apparently lilies.  I joked about the fact that we need to go ahead and get goats so they can clear it out and the hero said, “we can rent goats.”  Well we need to do something at least about the lilies.

Death Lily

If not made obvious by my writing about the pavlovinator, I love cats.  I love all animals, but cats especially.  This made the discovery of a bright orange lily growing in our yard kind of disturbing.

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Of course it closed before I got a picture.

For those of you who don’t know, all members of the lily family are extremely toxic to cats.  The flower is the most toxic but all parts of the plant, including the pollen are also.  Ingestion of any part can be fatal to cats.  Even a small amount is dangerous.  If you know there is lily pollen on your cat, be sure to wash it off thoroughly as the could ingest it when grooming themselves.  If you see a cat eating a lily, even just a small amount, take them immediately to a veterinarian.  There is effective treatment but only if they are treated within the first 18 hours of ingesting the lily.  After that the prospects are more grim.

If you didn’t see them eating it but suspect they might have, take them to a vet.  Early symptoms of lily toxicity include vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, tremors, and seizures.  Kidney failure and death follow if untreated.

Please, help us protect the cats that we so love as part of our families and handle lilies like you would other poisons.  After taking this photo I pulled the lily plant and composted it in our compost that is surrounded by chicken wire.  We have some outdoor neighborhood cats that I quite enjoy seeing curled up on the rocking chairs on our porch.  I would hate for anything to happen to them, or worse, the pavlovinator.

My suggestion is to grow either a pet grass or catnip (depending on how much your cat likes catnip), feed them healthy pet food and the occasional healthy pet treat.  Don’t grow lilies or buy floral arrangements including them unless you are 100% sure your cat and other outdoor possibly stray cats cannot get to them.  Also consider your disposal, if you compost (and you should) make sure you either toss lilies or compost them somewhere no cats can get to like an enclosed composter.

And because we’re on the subject of cats, spay and neuter all your pets and be sure to adopt from shelters and not animals that were bred at so-called ‘puppy mills’.

Battle of the Bunnies

They started it.  Not my younger brother and his friends, but the bunnies.  I have been battling the bunnies in my backyard over my garden.  I say battling in the most humane way possible.  One day I went to check on my newly planted garden and there was less green than the day before.  That’s not normally how gardens work, usually they get more green.  But the bunnies had been eating my leaves.  They had particularly hit one of my two elderberry bushes and my sweet potato plants.

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I put a cage that the bunnies can’t get through around the elderberry but I didn’t have a cage big enough for all six of my sweet potatoes.

My solution was threefold, first I put out hair clippings from the hero cutting his hair, me cleaning my hairbrush and the pavlovinator shedding her winter coat.  Then it rained.  The idea behind this is that the bunnies would smell a predator around and not want to come near.  So the rain washes away the smell and the effectiveness.  I don’t have that much hair cycling through my house so I also put down chili powder.  Basically the bunnies don’t like the smell and boy can you smell it.  My eyes got watery just standing over it.  This also will get washed away by the rain but my third solution is a bit more permanent.

A fence.  Now the word fence might conjure images of sturdy chain link or uniform white pickets.  Probably not this:

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But I had to use what we had and what we had was some chicken wire, a few cages, a length of lattice, and a few cinder blocks.  I started our fence with the chicken wire and cages but the hero finished it, enclosing all the plants.  I’m pretty sure all the plants have recovered fully and are doing great. (and that I need to weed them, but it’s hard getting into that fence!)

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We’ve also been mowing the lawn around clover patches to try to distract the bunnies.  Hopefully they want to eat the clover rather than my sweet potatoes!

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PS the newspaper on the ground is not litter, it is held down by rocks to help smother the oh so invasive grass that I’m sure the previous owner of our house tried feverishly to cultivate.