My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Friday, March 30, 2012

Deaf Dog Photo of the Week

Shadowfax is an imposing figure, striking when she sits up straight.  And she certainly knows how to pose for the camera.  I'm pretty sure she's the best puppy in the world. 
Being so pretty all the time can tire you out though (I can also personally attest to this).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Deaf Dog Bed Repair

One of the dogs beds opened a seam in the last few weeks and had a 6 inch gaping hole on the top with stuffing/fuzz coming out.  It wouldn't have a been a big deal except for the fact that the puppy likes her fuzz like politicians like fuzzy math.  Yeah, that much.  So Alycia grabbed her sewing kit and, even though she's not the fastest seamstress in the world, doggedly (I went there with my awesome pun so deal with it) set out to repair the dog bed.  I figured that she'd work at the table or even on the couch, but she decided to sit down on the floor to work on the dog bed.

"Uhh you know what's going to happen if you do that, right?" I inquired. 
"What?  It's fine."
Sure enough about six seconds later, this happened.
And then this.
Which quickly led to this.
Luckily despite the fact that sewing needles were inches away from everyone faces, no pups were accidentally injured and the dog bed was repaired.  It must be nice to be so well loved that the second you sit on the ground multiple dogs are jockeying for position to snuggle with you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Starting Seeds Indoors

The warm weather and Spring-like atmosphere has made me antsy to get gardening, but since it's only March, I'll have to settle with starting some seeds indoors.  It might be too early to start seeds, but I think that it might be warm enough to set out some of these transplants when they're ready in a month or so.  It might be pushing the envelope, but I like living on the edge.

I started four large trays with about two dozen six packs of pots I've saved from former nursery purchases.  It's super easy to just fill them with fresh potting soil and pop in the seeds.
All of the seeds are on the counter down in the basement with a large shop light on a timer so that seeds get plenty of light and (hopefully) germinate like champs.
These have some of our veggies (tomatoes, squash, honeydew melons, watermelons, eggplant and cabbages).
These are some annual and perennial flowers (zinnias, coneflowers, salvias, hollyhock, lavender, and clematis).  I'll be sure to show updates if/when things start to germinate and are ready to put out into the garden.  It's easier for me to be slightly more aggressive putting the flowers out sooner, when there's still a danger of frost, if they get frozen there's no big loss.  If I lose one of my delicious Sun Cherry Tomato plants though, I might be a bit of a sad panda, so I'll wait to put those out. 

This is only a fraction of the veggies and flowers that we plant.  We will still make our annual May pilgrimage to a nursery in Fertile, Minnesota, the fantastic Bergeson Nursery and buy other plants from local nurseries and hardware stores.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

We're On Facebook

Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes has finally cleared the formidable obstacles (John) and arrived on Facebook, finally joining the technological world of 2009.

Check out Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes on Facebook.  Once you're there you can "Like", "Really Like", "Like Totally Really Really Like", or "Pledge Undying Allegiance" to the page.  OK, you can only "Like" the page until I figure out how to make those other things happen.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Howling at the Moon

It's been a while since I posted a picture of my little nephew Jacob. He's already motoring around at a high rate of speed, tottering around on two feet and trying to master the whole "walking" thing. 
Jacob's canine big brother Buster is teaching him all the important things in life: how to chase bunnies (see picture above), howl at the moon, and to greet others by sniffing their hindquarters.  Buster is a pretty good big brother. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Signs Of Spring On the Homestead

Even though it's only March there are signs of Spring around the homestead here in North Dakota.  The grass is starting to green up and trees are beginning to swell with new growth.  I'm expecting little green leaves to burst forth on tree limbs any day now.  The honeyberries that we bought last year have already started to produce small leaves.  I'll get some pics of them later this week.

The weather was wonderful again yesterday, mid-60's, sunny and warm.  These are bonus days to me.  Normally we'd still be knee deep in snow and yearning for warm dry weather.  Now with this early Spring I can get out and start puttering around the yard - starting some Spring cleaning, tidying up the garage, building more tomato cages, completing some of the projects that never quite got completed last year, map out the perennial beds we're going to plant, etc.
You have to look pretty hard, but you can see the first tulips emerging from the ground.  The tulips are a full month ahead of schedule from the last two years when they didn't emerge from the ground until mid to late April. 
These are legacy leeks, already greened up and growing.  Legacy isn't a variety of leeks, these are literally a family legacy.  They were growing in Alycia's grandparents yard for years, then transplanted to her parents yard where they've grown for an unknown number of years.  Her parents dug some up last year and brought them to us and we planted them.  They go to seed in late summer/early fall and we allow them to sprout in the designated leek area (I call it LeekLand) adjacent to the compost bin.  The leeks seem very hardy and don't need much in the way of winter protection.  I half-assedly scattered some leaves around them in late Fall last year, but I don't think they needed it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Early Arrival of Spring

An early and vigorously warm spring has arrived here in northeastern North Dakota.  Yesterday was 70+ degrees and warm enough that a) Alycia and I moseyed out into the yard for some light yard work and b) I worked up a light sweat in the process. 

I spotted the first robin of the year on Wednesday, hopping about in the neighbors yard, and have since noticed several more each day.  Alycia is of the opinion (gleaned from one of her bird watching books) that Spring hasn't truly arrived until there are flocks of robins bounding about in every yard and peering down from every tree branch.  We can't be far off from that scenario.
Photo Credit

Monday, March 12, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I was greatly inspired by Alycia's friend and awesome blogegr Sara who made her own Homemade Vanilla Extract, and since it seemed so simple, I thought I'd give it a shot as well.  There are really only two ingredients, vodka (a 1.75 liter bottle) and whole vanilla beans (about a quarter pound), easy.  So easy that even I probably couldn't goof it up.
This is about what Alycia and I consume in a week, so we just had these two jugs sitting around.  Just kidding.  The vodka was readily available at the local liquor barn type establishment, but I had to order the vanilla beans online. 
I took a pair of clean kitchen shears and sliced the vanilla pods down their length to about an inch of the end.  The vanilla pods had the consistency of a raisin and the whole process only took about 15 minutes.
The vanilla pods were evenly divided up into each 1.75 liter jug of vodka, with about a quarter pound in each jug.  After only an hour the vanilla had already started to turn the vodka color and begin the extract process.  I'll put the bottles into the downstairs root cellar where it's cool and dark.  The vanilla will be ready to use in about a month, but will be best after it's had about 6 months to percolate.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Marilyn Hagerty Olive Garden Restaurant Review Goes Viral

The Grand Forks Herald and its food writer Marilyn Hagerty have exploded over the Internet over the last few days when her review of the Olive Garden restaurant in Grand Forks went viral and was picked up by snarky sites like BoingBoig, Fark, and Gawker.  These sites initially seemed intent on making fun of this old lady from a hick town in North Dakota and imposing their "big city' ideals of what being a food critic should entail.  But happily some public outcry came to her defense and tried to shout down the multitude of angry Internet trolls.  

Marilyn is 85 years old and has been associated with the Grand Forks Herald for more than 60 years (her late husband was the editor of the newspaper for many years).  She's a local institution and at 85 is a not only a better writer than most current college graduates, but has been churning out journalism pieces since before you were born (probably).  I hope that my brain is working half as well as hers when I'm 85, and can only imagine churning out 5 newspaper columns a week at any age.

Marilyn is very much the charming matron of Grand Forks, North Dakota.  She's the kindly grandmother who never has a bad word to say about anyone, and this is reflected in her restaurant reviews.  She rarely has a negative comment and can always find the good in anything, a quality that's sorely lacking in our world today.  We see Marilyn frequently at every manner of University of North Dakota sporting events, football, men's and women's basketball, women's volleyball, etc.  She's an enthusiastic and knowledgeable sports fan and very much an icon in the community.  Sure Alycia and I cracked a few jokes when she did her "Eat Beats" review of one of the McDonald's in town (I mean it's McDonald's, what can you say?), but that's Marilyn.

I mentioned Marilyn a couple of years ago here on Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes when she wrote an article about a Minnesota High School's ice fishing team.  

You can read about Internet sensation Marilyn Hagerty at the following:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Homemade Ketchup Article On Yahoo Voices

Despite my best efforts to the contrary, Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes continues to garner validation in the Blogo-Interneto-sphere.  The How to Made Homemade Ketchup post (after a few necessary edits and textual massages to make it less "bloggy" and more "article-y") was recently published on Yahoo! Voices.

You can read the article here - How to Make Homemade Ketchup

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Deaf Dog Growth Spurt

Want to see how much our little puppy Shadowfax has grown?  Check out this picture from the I'm Watching You post back in mid-August of last year.
Now a picture from the same spot that I took this week.
Isn't crazy how big she's gotten?  She's grown like two feet in under a year!!! At this rate she'll be 10 feet tall in a few years, like a spazzy deaf version of Clifford the Big Red dog.  I sense impending destruction shall be wrought upon the house if this growth trend continues.

OK, so what really happened is we put a trunk underneath that window in the mud room.  Alycia and her Mom covered the trunk with a carpet remnant and it's now a prefect perch for the puppy to watch the back yard happenings.  Did you really think she'd gotten that big?  Hadja going there didn't I???