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.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hand Built 3-Bin Compost System

Here's the great unveiling, the new Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes 3-Bin compost system extravaganza.  Yes it is hyperbole to call a compost bin an extravaganza, but this sucker has been quite a while in the making.  Like, a year in the making. 

Why the heck did it take so long? Well I did build it by hand, and I mean literally by hand, using only hand tools - hand saws, hand drills, screwdrivers, hammer.  So that certainly added to the time it took to construct it.  It also just sort of lingered in the garage for months in various states of semi-assembly.  Since my garage isn't climate controlled (not heated or cooled), there were many times in the summer when it was too hot to work on it, and in the winter when it was way too cold. 
3-Bin Composting system with removable front slats, which make working and turning the compost much easier.
So it ended up that the compost bin became a rainy day project, something to do indoors when it was rainy and I couldn't play in the garden.  Thus it took close to a year to build.  And yes, there was a healthy dose of procrastination involved as well.

Friday, June 22, 2012

When The Sunbeam Attacks

It's best not to fight it.
In fact, the best course of action is just to roll over and let it warm your tummy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Deaf Dog Antics

It's been a several weeks since we posted pictures (and video!!) of any doggy antics, this should make up for that shortcoming.

Tito may be old, going on 12 years old, and half the size of the puppy, but he can still bring it.  Every week or so Tito brings his special brand of tug-of-war thuggery against the puppy for a precious few minutes.  I captured the second round, only a few seconds worth of them playing.  The previous round went about 30 seconds and was over before I could capture it on video, but I did grab this final tussle.  It's brief, but pretty impressive for an old man. 
video
After a rousing game of tug-of-war the puppy sat down and enjoyed the deliciousness of a stuffed toy.  If she could just sit down and destroy the toy, we wouldn't mind, but instead of simply destroying the stuffed toy, she has to eat it as well.  All of it.  She eats the entire toy, from fuzzy innards to squeaker device to plush exterior.  As such we need to maintain a watchful eye on her and actively supervise her when we allow her to play with any toy that's remotely edible.  The end result is this scene is oft repeated.
Alycia is a pretty brave lady to just stick her hands right into the angry maw of a deaf pit bull.  The puppy is really good about this, she just lets you jam your hand in there and remove the fuzz/plastic/fabric/rope/whatever from her mouth.  Despite our vigilance plenty of fuzz gets through and we wind up with multi-colored rainbow poops out in the backyard. 

Shaak Ti sat by and leisurely chomped on her own toy.  This was a Christmas present (thanks Bill and Christine) that we saved for when the pups needed a new little treat or the bit of excitement that comes with playing with a new toy. 
 It was a new toy and she was pretty enthusiastic.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sad Peonies

Two of the main reasons that I suck as a blogger are 1) I forget to always have my camera on my person (there are 20 awesome pictures I miss every day because I left my camera in the house when I go on a bike ride or a dog walk or to work in the garden) and 2) I see something great to photograph and then get distracted and the moment passes and the photo never gets taken.

Prime example number one, the peony blooms.  By Wednesday of this week the peonies were in full beautiful bloom, and we have several varieties: white, white with pink striations, light pink, and dark raspberry sherbet pink.  There are several dozen peonies throughout the homestead and they all looked maginificent.  But I didn't have my camera on me, and by the time I got out there the next day, camera in hand on Thursday, the booming thunderstorms and super heavy downpours during the overnight hours left us with sad, droopy peonies, their blooms sagging on the ground. 
 Sigh.  A day late and a dollar short.  They sure did look great just a day before.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cavalier, North Dakota Sets World Record

...for the largest ice cream sundae.  Yes, Alycia's hometown set the record today for the largest ice cream sundae in the world.  The Guiness Book of World Records was on hand to verify the attempt.  You can see the proceedings on the video below.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Road Trip Highlights

Alycia and I wrapped up a 4,500 mile, two week road trip the other day.  We visited some great places - Yosemite National Park and Napa Valley in California, and Salem and Portland in Oregon, and got to see many of our best friends along the way.  I'll post some good pictures and additional stories in a few days, but I thought I'd pass along some entertaining/unusual highlights. 

There was a cat show at the hotel we stayed at on our overnight rest stop in Reno, Nevada. Alycia was able to meet, pet, and photograph the Iams Ambassador cat (his name was Dances With Mice) as well as a host of other feline pageant entrants.  Dances With Mice was apparently quite an amiable feline.  Being extremely allergic, I stayed away and let Alycia visit with the kitties. 
We ate the best gas station food I've ever had - a full rack of ribs, German potato salad, and spaghetti squash from the famous Whoa Nellie Deli (yes it is actually in a gas station) in Lee Vining on the way to the Eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park.  The spaghetti squash was so good that I was compelled to ask the cook for his secret.  I should have known the secret was butter, lots of butter.  Instead of halving the squash and baking it face down in a few inches of water, find a way to balance it face up, place a half stick of butter in each half, cover with foil, and bake about an hour.  I'll be sure to let you know when (not if) I try this out.
On a gasoline stop in Spokane, Washington we rescued a dog.  Her name was Cookie, she was an old Australian Shepard, and her name Cookie was fitting.  She looked exactly like a Cookie, like an Oreo that had been squished.  She was an amalgam of white, grey, and black splotches and we found her crossing a busy street.  We corralled her for some belly rubs and pets and called the number on her tag and got her back home safely.  That brings the number of states that Alycia and I have rescued lost dogs in to three.

We're still in the midst of getting unpacked, the garden weeded, and the last few things planted for the season.  I'll post an update of the happenings around here in the garden as well as additional vacation photos that might be of interest.