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.



Monday, July 30, 2012

Iron X Weed Killer

Due to John's desire to have an organic and chemical free garden, as well as his overall distaste for grass, he does not care much if our grass has weeds in it. However, this year, even he agreed that our dandelion population was out of control and he consented for me to look into organic weed killers.

We first tried buying locally in the Grand Forks plant and garden centers, but to no avail. In fact one worker at one of the centers suggested that we look into having a professional company come an spray our lawn (the direct opposite of what we wanted).

So then I turned to on-line research. With a lot of digging, the one product that seemed the most natural and chemical free was Iron X®. It isn't necessarily cheap, but it is something that can be diluted so that makes it more cost effective. I bought a bottle of it to try and to be honest, my first application wasn't too impressive in terms of weed death. I tried again a few weeks later, adding in some liquid dish soap (on John's recommendation) so that it would stick better to the weeds. And I really think that helped the process.

Here are a few pictures of our dead weeds.






It's a little hard to see since our grass is so dry due to the summer drought, but the dandelions are the black things. They really do turn black and crispy within a day of application. And for some reason, I get a big kick out of seeing my weeds wither and die. After this successful experiment, we bought another four bottles since we have a large yard and nearly as large weed infestation. I know that weed control will take a few years, but now that I have a product that appears to work, I can hit the weeds hard early in the spring, as well as later this fall. And add in some more grass seeding, to help fill in the patches, I'm hoping that our yard will be naturally weed free in a few years. Stay tuned for progress updates!

As a disclaimer, the one bummer is that my less than accurate spraying did hit our fence and since the concentrate is a dark brown color, it stained our fence. I am optimistic though that this will fade with time, and with some rain and snow hitting it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Support PBS: Bob Ross Remixed

PBS has started a new line of YouTube videos honoring their quintessential and favorite hosts. This video is of Bob Ross, of the Joy of Painting fame. I used to watch him every Saturday afternoon, fancying myself a painter. Just once did I attempt to "paint" along with him. I was probably about 8 or 9 and my mom got me a canvas and some paints and I sat down with Bob. Very quickly I realized I was unable to make "happy little trees" so instead I decided to make my version of the Easter Bunny (I guess it must have been around Easter). It was a very sad painting, but my mom still hung it up. I think it might still be in their house somewhere, so if I can find it, I'll take a picture to show you why I went into academia instead of art school.

Enjoy Bob Ross:


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ask and you shall receive

So how timely is it that just ONE day after my posting about the drought we're having when this happened (Taken from the Grand Forks Herald, Wednesday July 25):

Record rainfall of 1.96 inches falls overnight in Grand Forks

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

Record rain fell in Grand Forks late Tuesday night.
The National Weather Service reports that 1.96 inches of rain fell at Grand Forks International Airport. That breaks the record of 1.30 inches, set in 1993.
Rainfall totaled 2.06 inches at the Weather Service office in Grand Forks, breaking the record of 1.22 inches in 1902.
The rain fell mostly along the U.S. Highway 2 corridor.
“It was a fairly good swath,” Meteorologist Vince Godon said.
Another band, along and south of Interstate 94, produced rainfall totals of as much as 3 to 6 inches in some points between Valley City, N.D., and Wadena, Minn.
Fargo also set a record, with 2.35 inches, breaking the mark of 1.05 inches in 1993.
While heavy rain fell in the Grand Forks area, others points to the north and between the U.S. 2 and I-94 swaths received little moisture.
Devils Lake officially recorded 2.7 inches, while reports from the basin were as high as 3.8 inches, according to Jeff Frith, manager of the Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource District. Rainfall totaled 1.30 inches southwest of Tolna, N.D., and 0.65 inch in the Brocket, N.D., area.
Crookston, Minn., received between an inch and 1.5 inches, according to a report from Mid-Valley Grain Co-op. Meanwhile, Thompson, N.D., received about one inch, while Reynolds, N.D. recorded about 0.70 inch.
The Weather Service forecasts potential showers and thunderstorms tonight and Thursday, mainly across northwest Minnesota.
High temperatures are expected to be in the 80s today, then cooling to the 70s on Thursday, before rising back into the 80s for the weekend, according to the short-term forecast.
Here are some of the rainfall totals from around the region:
• Gilby, N.D., 1.71 inches.
• McVille, N.D., 1.25 inches.
• Lankin, N.D., 0.89 inch.
• Park River, N.D., 0.35 inch.
• Minto, N.D., 0.30 inch.
• Argyle, Minn., 0.28 inch.
• Starkweather, N.D., 0.21 inch.
• Cooperstown, N.D., 0.02 inch.

Alycia's critique: I guess I should have complained sooner - maybe we would have gotten more frequent rain this summer.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Drought in North Dakota

For those of you who haven't been following the North Dakota weather, we've been in a near-drought for most of the spring and summer. This is probably yet one more indication of global warming, but we'll save that for another post. Anyway, the most pressing need when there is a drought is obviously that the garden needs water, on a nearly daily basis.

Here's a good example comparison of two different sets of cucumber plants. One gets direct drippage from the soaker hose, while the other doesn't. See if you can tell which is which...

Cucumber plant grouping #1

Cucumber plant grouping #2

There definitely is something to the idea of having sun AND water for plants to flourish.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Changes....A New Job...A New Blog Helper

I know I left everyone in a bit of a blogger version of a dangling cliffhanger ending in our recent More Deaf Dog Antics post in reference to some large life changes.  Well I've been in North Dakota for three years now and the time has finally come for me to get a real job.  Yes, it's true, a real job.

Since moving from Southern California three years ago, I've remained an active Senior Financial Consultant (impressive sounding job title huh?) with clients back in San Diego.  Luckily I was able to perform a lot of tasks remotely, frantically e-mailing documents back and forth to various contacts.  But only so much can be done through the computer or cell phone, and I had to physically be at the client site every so often.  Unluckily the times when I needed to be partially physically at the client work site in San Diego was roughly May through November, which is also known as "the months where it's nice to be outside in North Dakota".

When I was working in San Diego I had the best of all possible worlds, family I could stay with for free (significantly reducing my travel expenses), an environment I enjoyed and was familiar with, and a great group of friends to hang out with.  But it just wasn't the same as being at home.  Living out of a suitcase in my Dad's spare bedroom just wasn't the same as being with Alycia, the dogs, the comfy confines of my house, and wondrous garden I was trying to create.

The time that I was here in North Dakota during May to November was spent working to prepare for the next business trip, feverishly getting the garden back in shape from the two weeks that I ignored it, packing in quality time with Alycia and the dogs, and trying to get healthy again and back into my familiar diet and exercise regimen (it's so easy to eat out all the time and ignore physical activity when you're on the road).
Your intrepid blogger on his first trip to North Dakota, more than four years ago. 
For the last three years I missed out on a lot of stuff, especially garden related.  I'd leave for a trip and the tomatoes would be juuuussst almost ripe, and three weeks later I'd get back and Alycia would be sick of them since she'd spent the last two and a half weeks eating, freezing, and canning tomatoes by herself.  I missed garden tours, State Fairs (I still haven't been to one in Minnesota or North Dakota!!), golf outings, volleyball tournaments, and evenings sitting on the porch with a cold beer enjoying the last rays of sun on a warm day. 

While this unusual working arrangement was great in so many ways, it also left Alycia and My schedules totally out of whack.  My busy time (Summer) was her slow time, and her busy time (the school year) was for the most part my slow time.  That left us unable to fully appreciate the dream of an academic lifestyle (aka not doing squat all summer) together.  

I'm also very much a homebody, and being a homebody while working on the road and living away from home just didn't jive with me.  Spending so much time crafting an enjoyable, cozy, beautiful home and garden and then being away from it for most of its period of greatest glory just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

This has turned into a crazy tangent, as most of my posts do. Sorry.

The bottom line is that I have accepted a job teaching accounting at a local community college.  It's going to be a challenge.  I have no teaching experience but a wealth of real world experience and a zest for BS, which I hope will be enough.  One of the courses I'll be teaching is Cost Accounting, and I HATE cost accounting, I'm gonna have to get over that.  It's only a 9 month position so I'll have summers off, which is ideal for slacking. 
Your new blogging team.
I thought all these changes would lead to the slow demise of our magnificent blog, but our newest field reporter (this is her job title for her 6 month probationary period) has really stepped up and prepared some blog postings.  She may be over-embellishing the "you must contribute our I'll shut down the blog" ultimatum she claims (in her post - The GF Girlfriend Emerges) I threw out there, but truth be told I did tell her that I would need her help to keep the blog going.  And thus far she's responded well.  You will see her posts in the coming weeks and months and I think she'll add a slightly different (less cynical) viewpoint.  A big Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes welcome to Alycia, our newest field reporter.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fire in the potty

It might have been a slow day for news on Friday, July 20, 2012 for the Grand Forks Herald. This little diddy was on the second page of the B section. Things like this give North Dakota a bad name...sigh.

Police: Portable toilet fire was result of arson

BISMARCK — An arson suspect is on the hot seat in Bismarck.
Police say someone set a Spiffy Biff portable toilet on fire near a construction zone shortly before noon on Wednesday.
Firefighters put out the blaze, which melted the plastic and caused an estimated $950 in damage.
The Bismarck Tribune reports that police believe the fire was started intentionally, because there was nothing in the area that would have ignited the plastic.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

 

Alycia's commentary: Personally, I wonder why they would have thought it was started by anything other than arson. How many times have you been concerned to go into a port-a-potty due it's potential for combustion? There are many other reasons I've been concerned about using them, but now do I need to worry about catching fire?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The GF girlfriend emerges...

Hello, Alycia (the GF girlfriend) here. Now, before you immediately surf away from the blog because it's not John writing, hear me out. John is starting a new job this fall (more on this in a later post - he promises) and with the new job, he will have much less time to devote to the blog. Due to this lack of time, he gave me an ultimatum: either I contribute or the blog shuts down. Now, who knows what the future will bring, but I thought I should at least try to contribute to the blog instead of just preemptively quitting on all of our faithful readers.

Long story short, there will (hopefully) be more posts by me in the future, as John and I start to share the Deaf Dogs blog load. If any of the readers have any burning questions for me regarding John, the dogs, the garden, or even myself, please feel free to post and I'll do what I can to address them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Deaf Dog Antics

Since everyone seemed to enjoy that last puppy video I posted, and since I'm swamped with work as well as life changes (much more on this in a later post) and have no time to write right now, I'll just put this video out there to sate your appetite.

Shadowfax chewed a piece off of her rubber toy (if you listen closely you can hear her scronching on it) and ran around with it, chomping it repeatedly, throwing it in the air, and just generally thinking it was the greatest thing in the world.  The piece was small enough that if she ended up ingesting it (which she did) that there was no worry about it getting stuck in her puppy innards.  For the record we usually fish the toy/fuzz/string bits out of her mouth before she has a chance to gulp them down.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Go Fighting Sioux!!

Awesome (not so) little nephew Jacob shows off his University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux t-shirt.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Deaf Puppy In The Pool

We're big believers in doggy day care here at Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes.  If our schedules dictate that we won't have much time to play and pay attention to the puppy, we take her to doggy day care for the day.  This really only happens when I'm out of town for work (this will change though...more on this in a later post) and Alycia is left to be a single doggy parent.  The puppy always returns home from doggy day care a tired heap of pup, but on warm days she is frequently wet and her "report card" talks about how much fun she had in the pool. 

Seeing as how she allegedly has so much fun in the pool at doggy day care, we figured we'd get her a pool of her own and fill it up on hot days for her to enjoy.  Since the pool was just a cheap plastic disk, it wasn't much of an investment. 
video
As you can see she wanted nothing to do with the pool (in spite of Alycia's Dad and his coaxing) except to have a bit of a drink. 
video
Unbeknownst to us we were simply using the pool incorrectly.  It's not supposed to be right side up and filled with water, it's supposed to be upside down and empty, that way you can chew on it and get a running start and jump on it like a sled. 
video

I try not to malign Alycia very often, mostly because there is no occasion to do so.  I love her very much, and she is a very smart lady with an enormous array of skills and abilities and talents.  Unfortunately for you, video recording is not one of them.  On the one hand, it was impressive of her just to capture this scene at all, but on the other hand, you can barely see the puppy getting a running start, jumping on the pool, and sliding under the temporary fencing we have set up to protect our new not-yet-established plants from puppy related carnage such as this. I just feel like a more accomplished videographer would have captured the scene better...
video
And just for fun, one more puppy video of her tearing around the house, trying to get Tito to play with her (Tito is just out of frame to the right, probably glowering with anger). 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Update on the New Ads

They are gone.  They were annoying.  They were links to sketchy sites that simply incorporated the name of our blog, and not really to any sites of substance.  They were annoying to me and I didn't want to subject my wonderful readers to these crappy/shady ads. 

So the good news is they're gone!  The bad news?  I replaced them with a few more Amazon.com ads.  But at least the Amazon ads are selling cool things like books and music and crossbows and garden gnomes.  And as always, I encourage you to click on the ads and buy things from Amazon.com, all proceeds from sales go to help deaf dogs in North Dakota.